Appalachian Botany and Ethnobotany
Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center
Associate Teaching Professor
Department of Ecosystem Science and Management
Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences
B.A., Economic Botany, Idaho State University (1999)
M.S., Horticulture, Penn State (2002)
Ph.D., Forest Resources, Penn State (2011)
Areas of Expertise
- Field botany, plant taxonomy and systematics, herbarium methods
- Non-timber forest products (e.g., maple syrup, medicinal/culinary plants and fungi)
- Economic botany and ethnobotany
- Forest biology, ecology and stewardship
- Plant husbandry and horticulture
- Wild plant conservation, management, and policy
- Invasive plant ecology, ethnobotany, and management
- Appalachian forest plant biology, ecology, and ethnobotany
- Agroforestry and agroecology
I am a professional botanist and ethnobotanist. In my position as associate teaching professor here at Penn State, I contribute to the following educational areas:
- Instruction: I teach university-level courses on plant identification, biology, ecology, conservation, and management in the Ecosystem Science and Management Department.
- Research: I am principal investigator (PI), co-PI, or research partner for botany and ethnobotany projects involving plant ecology, 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
- FOR 203 Field Dendrology (every fall)
- FOR 303 Herbaceous Forest Plant Identification, Ecology and Ethnobotany (every spring)
- FOR 403 Invasive Forest Plant Identification, Ecology and Management (in odd years, upcoming 2021)
- FOR 418 Agroforestry: Science, Design and Practice (in even years, upcoming 2022)
My Research Program and Graduate Students
I maintain a highly collaborative and interdisciplinary botany and ethnobotany research program focused on wild plant conservation, husbandry, and horticulture. For the past 18 years, I have worked on topics that assist with forest-based stewardship and agroforestry cropping of Appalachian specialty forest products or non-timber forest products (NTFPs).
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 three culturally and economically important eastern North American forest plants: American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), and ramps/wild leek (Allium tricoccum).
2020 AHPA awards recognize excellence in the herbal products industry
Eric Burkhart, with his colleagues (the Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmer Coalition), earns Herbal Insight Award
Ramps (Allium tricoccum)
Daryln Brewer Hoffstot, Pittsburgh Quarterly — Spring
Demand for ginseng is creating a ‘wild west’ in Appalachia
National Geographic — January
Forest farms could create market for ginseng, other herbs
Jeff Mulhollem, Penn State News — November
Daryln Brewer Hoffstot, Pittsburgh Quarterly — October
Penn State Beaver biology professor studying wild ramps in Pennsylvania
Kristen Doerschner, Penn State News — July
Ramps: an important forest resource and emerging forest “crop”
Eric Burkhart, Cat Pugh, Sarah Nilson, Center for Private Forests — February
Operation Root Cause: Diggers, dealers, and the case for wild ginseng
Terri Edwards — November
Researchers to study ramps’ market, flavor profile, vulnerability to pest
Jeff Mulhollem, Penn State News — March
Supplies of valuable ginseng root dwindling
Julia Dewitt, All Things Considered, National Public Radio — January
Researchers investigating status of goldenseal in Pennsylvania
Jeff Mulhollem, Penn State News — March
Saving ‘sang’: New label aims to conserve wild ginseng, spur more domestic use of pricy plant
Michael Rubinkam, Associated Press (U.S. News & World Report) — October
Plant scientist works with landowners, law enforcement to protect ginseng
Hilary Appelman, Penn State News — February
Research and Educational Publications
American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)
Burkhart, E.P. and Jacobson, M.G. 2017. Opportunities from American ginseng husbandry in Pennsylvania (revised and expanded) (pdf). The Pennsylvania State University College of Agriculture, University Park, PA. 16 p.
Burkhart, E.P. and Jacobson, M.G. 2004. Non-timber forest products from Pennsylvania. American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) (pdf). The Pennsylvania State University College of Agriculture, University Park, PA. 12 p.
Burkhart, E.P., Zuiderveen, G.H., Pugh, C.V., and Nilson, S.E. Neither wild nor cultivated: wild American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) trade surveys provide insights into husbandry of an internationally traded non-timber forest product. Manuscript in development for 2020 submission to Economic Botany.
Burkhart, E.P. 2013. American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) floristic associations in Pennsylvania: guidance for identifying calcium-rich forest farming sites (pdf). 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 (pdf). Biodiversity and Conservation 21 (14): 3657-3679.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
Burkhart, E.P. and Jacobson, M.G. 2006. Non-timber forest products from Pennsylvania. Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) (pdf). The Pennsylvania State University College of Agriculture, University Park, PA. 16 p.
Burkhart, E.P. and Zuiderveen, G.H. 2019. Wild goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis L.) root alkaloid content in relation to colony and harvest stage (pdf). Journal of Herbs, Spices, and Medicinal Plants 25 (2): 128-140.
Ramps/Wild Leeks (Allium tricoccum)
Burkhart, E.P. and Pugh, C. 2020 (expected). Non-timber forest products from Pennsylvania. Ramps/Wild leeks (Allium tricoccum). The Pennsylvania State University College of Agriculture, University Park, PA.
Jordan, R.T. 2020 (expected) ‘Ramp/wild leek (Allium tricoccum) phytochemistry’ M.S. Thesis (Ecosystem Science and Management). The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA.
Pugh, S. Current graduate student (2019-2021). ‘Ramp/wild leek (Allium tricoccum) trade, supply chains, and stakeholder perspectives in Pennsylvania and the mid-Atlantic region’ M.S. Thesis (Ecosystem Science and Management). The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA.
Burkhart, E. P., Nilson, S. E., and Jordan, R. T. 2021 (expected). Seasonal observations of bulb development in ramps (Allium tricoccum Ait.): implications for wild plant stewardship and forest farming.
Appalachian Medicinal Forest Plants
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 (pdf). (Peer-reviewed) Herbalgram 124 (Nov-Jan): 60-77.
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 (pdf) Agroforestry Systems 76 (2): 437-453.
Invasive Forest Plants
Maynard-Bean, E. E., Kaye, M., Wagner, T., and Burkhart, E. P. January 2020 (Submitted). Citizen scientists document regional extended leaf phenology for invasive shrubs. Manuscript submitted to: Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.