C. John Burk

Elsie Damon Simonds Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences

John Burk

Contact & Office Hours

Sabin-Reed Hall 248



Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


John Burk’s research areas include the floristics, biogeography and ecology of coastal areas and freshwater wetlands, as well as studies in the history of botany, including botanical gardens and botanical illustration. Basic themes he has pursued for a number of years involve changes in vegetation over time and in response to environmental disruptions of various sorts, including oil spills, other forms of pollution and invasions by exotic species.

Much of the work Burk and his students have done has been centered in western Massachusetts, where they have examined long-term changes in swamp forest vegetation, the structure and composition of freshwater marshes and succession in lowland forests, including a hemlock stand that has been observed for more than 40 years. They have also documented the establishment of potentially invasive non-native species, and, in some cases, have been able to assess the degree to which these manage to persist and spread. Since 2005 Burk has also been involved in collaborative studies of the plants and vegetation of New England and northern Germany with plant ecologist Kai Jensen of Hamburg University.

Selected Publications

Burk, C. J. 2014. "Audubon’s Maine Woods," The Thoreau Society Bulletin, Number 287: 1–3.

Burk, C. J. and J. S. Burk. 2013. "Heterotheca subaxillaris var. latifolia (Asteraceae), a Massachusetts record established in a Cape Cod heathland." Rhodora 115, no.3: 281–285.

Ae Kyung Lee, Young Hee Joung, Xue Wei Wu, Heoy Kyung Jung, C. John Burk, Laurie L. Sanders, Mark S. Roh and Jeung Keun Suh. 2011. "Confirmation of Hybrid Origin in Arisaema (Araceae) using Molecular Markers" Scientia Horticulturae 129: 812–817.

Garcia Bailo, B., M. R. C. Emison, W. B. Coleman, and C. J. Burk. 2004. "Thirty-six years of change in an eastern hemlock white pine stand in western Massachusetts." Rhodora 106: 273–285.

Burk, C. J., and T. Zebryk. 2001. Woody Aristolochia species in western Massachusetts. Rhodora 103: 427–30.

Holland, M. M., and C. J. Burk. 2000. "Effects of catastrophic flooding on floodplain forest succession." Verh. Internat. Verein. Limnol. 27: 2435–39.

Holland, M. M., C. J. Burk, and D. McLain. 2000. "Long-term vegetation dynamics of the lower strata of a western Massachusetts oxbow swamp forest." Rhodora 102: 154–74.

Burk, C. J. 1995. Celebrating a Century: The Botanic Garden of Smith College. Smith College, Northampton, MA. 30 pp.

Burk, C. J. 1994. "Evolution of a Flora: Early Connecticut Valley Botanists." Rhodora 96: 75–96.

Boland, W., and C. J. Burk. 1992. "Some effects of acidic growing conditions on three emergent macrophytes: Zizania aquatica, Leersia oryzoides and Peltandra virginica." Environmental Pollution 76: 211–17.

Sanders, L. L., and C. J. Burk. 1992. "A naturally occurring population of putative Arisaema triphylluym subsp. stewardsonii x A dracontium hybrids in Massachusetts." Rhodora 94: 340–47.

Holland, M. M., and C. J. Burk. 1990. "The marsh vegetation of three Connecticut River oxbows: a ten-year comparison." Rhodora 92: 166–204.