Eric Burkhart, Ph.D.

Eric Burkhart, Ph.D.

  • Teaching Professor
210 Forest Resources Building
University Park, PA 16802

Areas of Expertise

  • Agroforestry (especially Forest Farming)
  • Appalachian Forest Plant Identification, Biology, Ecology, and Ethnobotany
  • Ethnobotany
  • Field Botany and Plant Taxonomy, Herbarium Methods
  • Invasive Plant Identification, Ecology, and Management
  • Non-timber Forest Products (e.g., Maple Syrup, Medicinal/Culinary Plants and Fungi)
  • Plant Husbandry and Horticulture
  • Wild Plant Conservation, Management, and Policy

Education

  • B.A., Ethnobotany (Anthropology and Botany Dual), Idaho State University (1999)
  • M.S., Horticulture, Penn State University (2002)
  • PhD., Forest Resources, Penn State University (2011)

I am a professional botanist, ethnobotanist, and agroforester. In my position as Associate Teaching Professor here at Penn State University, I contribute to the following educational areas:

  • Instruction: I teach University level courses on plant identification, biology, ecology, conservation, and management.
  • Research: I am PI, co-PI or research partner for botany and ethnobotany projects involving plant use and conservation, non-timber forest products, and forest product enterprise development.
  • Extension/Outreach: I lead workshops and field days for landowner and agency audiences, often in collaboration with partners.

Courses that I Teach at Penn State

Fall Semester

  • FOR 203 Field Dendrology (every fall)

Spring Semester

  • FOR 303 Herbaceous Forest Plant Identification, Ecology and Ethnobotany (every spring)
  • FOR 403 Invasive Forest Plant Identification, Ecology and Management (in odd years, upcoming 2025)
  • FOR 418 Agroforestry: Science, Design and Practice (in even years, taught spring 2024)

My Research Program and Graduate Students

I maintain a highly collaborative and interdisciplinary botany and ethnobotany research program focused on wild plant conservation, agroforestry, and horticulture. For the past two decades, I have worked on topics pertaining to forest-based (in situ) stewardship and agroforestry crop development for Appalachian specialty forest products or non-timber forest products (NTFPs). For the past several years, I have also worked in central America (Belize, Costa Rica) and the Caribbean (US Virgin Islands) on agroforestry projects involving Prickly (Zanthoxylum spp.) and cacao (Theobroma cacao).

My students and I continue to conduct research on questions relating to Appalachian Forest plant botany, ethnobotany, ecology, phytochemistry, horticulture, agroforestry, and invasive forest plants. Our collective research to date has focused on the following culturally and economically important eastern North American forest plants: American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), ramps/wild leek (Allium tricoccum), ghost-pipe (Monotropa uniflora), and prickly-ash (Zanthoxylum americanum and other species). I am also interested in non-native, introduced (“invasive”) forest plants, and conduct research and teaching on topics relating to their introduction, impact, and spread in eastern North American deciduous forests. 

Graduate Students Advised and Co-advised

Current Graduate Students

Lawson, Kirk. 2021-2026. A phytochemical evaluation of native agroforestry crops from Allium and Zanthoxylum. Ph.D. Candidate, Ecosystem Science and Management, the Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA.

Anez, Savannah. 2022-2026. Indian-pipe (Monotropa uniflora) uses, phytochemistry, and chemical ecology. Ph.D. Candidate, Biology, the Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA.   

Palkovich, Rachel. 2021-2025. American ginseng morphometric studies. Ph.D. Candidate, Anthropology, the Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA.     

Peer-reviewed Publications (examples):

Jordan, R.T., Burkhart, E.P., Kaye, M.W., Munoz D., and Lambert, J.D. 2024. Allicin and total phenolic content in ramps (Allium tricoccum Ait.) in relation to phenological stage, morphological traits, and harvest location. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology (In Press).

Gao, Y., Swiggart, E., Wolkiewicz, K., Liyanapathiranage, P., Baysal-Gurel F., Avin, F.A., Lopez, E.F.P., Jordan, R.T., Kellogg, J., and Burkhart, E.P. 2024. Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis L.) extracts inhibit the growth of fungal isolates associated with American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.). Molecules 29(3): 556.

Stark, C., Nilson, S.E., and Burkhart, E.P. 2023. Two ramp taxa, Allium tricoccum Ait. and A. burdickii (Hanes) A.G. Jones), differ in abiotic habitat characteristics and floristic associates in Pennsylvania. Natural Areas Journal 43(3): 185-195.

Nilson, S.E., Burkhart, E.P., Jordan, R.T., and Lambert, J.D. 2023. Seasonal observations of bulb development in ramps (Allium tricoccum Ait.): implications for wild plant stewardship and forest farming. Agroforestry Systems 97: 97-107.

Burkhart, E.P., Nilson, S.E., Pugh, C.V., and Zuiderveen, G.H. 2021. Neither wild nor cultivated: American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) seller surveys provide insights into in situ planting and trade. Economic Botany 73(2):126-143.

Liu, H., Burkhart, E.P., Chen, V.Y-J., and Wei, X. 2021. Promotion of in situ forest farmed American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) as a sustainable use strategy: opportunities and challenges. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 9: 652103.

Zuiderveen, G.H., Burkhart, E.P., and Lambert, J.D. 2021. Benzylisoquinoline alkaloid content in goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis L.) is influenced by phenological stage, reproductive status, and time-of-day. Phytochemistry Letters 42: 61-67.

Zuiderveen, G.H., Burkhart, E.P., and Lambert, J.D. 2021. Influence of post-harvest drying temperatures on alkaloid levels in goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis L.). HortScience 56 (2): 242-243.

Maynard-Bean, E.E., Kaye, M., Wagner, T., and Burkhart, E.P. 2020. Citizen scientists record novel leaf phenology of invasive shrubs in eastern U.S. forests. Biological Invasions 22: 3325-3337.

Chittum, H.K., Burkhart, E.P., Munsell, J.F., and Kruger, S.D. 2019. Investing in forests and communities: a pathway to sustainable supply of forest farmed herbs. Herbalgram 124 (Nov-Jan): 60-77.

Burkhart, E.P. and Zuiderveen, G.H. 2019. Wild goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis L.) root alkaloid content in relation to colony and harvest stage. Journal of Herbs, Spices, and Medicinal Plants 25 (2): 128-140.

Burkhart, E.P. 2013. American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) floristic associations in Pennsylvania:guidance for identifying calcium-rich forest farming sites. Agroforestry Systems 87 (5): 1157-1172.

Burkhart, E.P., Jacobson, M.G. and Finley, J. 2012. Stakeholder perspective and experience with wild American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) conservation efforts in Pennsylvania, U.S.A.:limitations to a CITES driven, top-down regulatory approach. Biodiversity and Conservation 21 (14): 3657-3679.

Burkhart, E.P. and Jacobson, M.G. 2009. Transitioning from wild collection to forest cultivation of indigenous medicinal forest plants in eastern North America is constrained by lack of profitability. Agroforestry Systems 76 (2): 437-453.

Publications

Forest Farming, Burkhart, Eric, Munsell, John, Davis, Jeanine, 2024

Nontimber forest products from Pennsylvania: Ramps/Wild leeks (Allium tricoccum), Burkhart, Eric, Pugh, Cathryn, Norman, Calvin, 2023

Ramp (Allium tricoccum Ait.) weight differs across the harvest season: implications for wild plant stewardship and forest farming
Agroforestry Systems, Nilson, Sarah E., Burkhart, Eric, Jordan, Rebecca, Lambert, Joshua, 2022

The identification of mesophytic cove sites in Pennsylvania., Norman, Calvin, Burkhart, Eric, Schmidt, Kathryn, Zimmerman, Ephraim, 2021

Goods from the woods: ramps Allium tricoccum, a popular edible non-timber forest product with growing commercial appeal.
Pennsylvania Forests, Burkhart, Eric, Pugh, Cathryn, Stark, Cassie, 2021

Influence of postharvest drying temperatures on alkaloid levels in goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis L.)
Hortscience: A Publication of the American Society for Hortcultural Science, Zuiderveen, Grady H., Burkhart, Eric P., Lambert, Joshua D., 2021

Promotion of in situ Forest Farmed American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) as a Sustainable Use Strategy: Opportunities and Challenges
Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, Liu, Hong, Burkhart, Eric, Chen, Vivian, Wei, Xi, 2021

Neither Wild nor Cultivated: American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) Seller Surveys Provide Insights into in situ Planting and Husbandry1
Economic Botany, Burkhart, Eric, Zuiderveen, Grady, Nilson, Sarah, Pugh, Catherine, Nilson, S, Zuiderveen, Grady, 2021

Citizen scientists record novel leaf phenology of invasive shrubs in eastern U.S. forests
Biological Invasions, Maynard-Bean, Erynn, Kaye, Margot, Wagner, Tyler, Burkhart, Eric P., 2020

Investing in forests and communities: a pathway to sustainable supply of forest farmed herbs
Herbalgram, Chittum, Holly, Burkhart, Eric, Munsell, John, Kruger, Steve, 2019

Wild goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) rhizome/root alkaloid content in relation to colony and harvest stage
Journal of Herbs, Spices and Medicinal Plants, Burkhart, Eric, Zuiderveen, Grady, 2019

Alkaloid content in forest grown goldenseal: preliminary results and current directions, Zuiderveen, Grady, Burkhart, Eric, 2018

Opportunities from American ginseng husbandry in Pennsylvania, Burkhart, Eric, Jacobson, M, 2017

Chapter 21, Native plants for the Pennsylvania garden
Penn State Master Gardeners Training Manual, Burkhart, Eric, 2016

Slipping away? Slippery elm in the herbal marketplace - past, present and future
Journal of Medicinal Plant Conservation, Burkhart, Eric, 2016

American ginseng: a threatened native plant with specialty crop potential
Keystone Wild Notes, Burkhart, Eric, 2014