America’s Many Moon Trees

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    You’ve probably never known this, but chances are somewhere [relatively] near you is a tree that once orbited the moon back when it was nothing more than a tiny seed.

    Apollo 14 launched on what was man’s third trip to the lunar surface on the afternoon of January 31, 1971.  Five days later Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell walked on the Moon while Stuart Roosa, a former U.S. Forest Service smoke jumper, orbited above in the command module. Packed in small containers in Roosa’s personal kit were hundreds of tree seeds, part of a joint NASA/US Forest Service project designed to discover whether seeds could germinate after enduring the rigors and radiation of space.  With many eyes looking deeper into the heavens, it was believed that this experiment would help pave the way for a manned trip to Mars.

    Seeds were chosen from five different types of trees: Loblolly Pine, Sycamore, Sweetgum, Redwood, and Douglas Fir. The seeds were classified and sorted, and control seeds were kept on Earth for later comparison. Roosa carried about 400 – 500 seeds in his personal kit which stayed with him as he orbited the Moon in the command module “Kitty Hawk” in February, 1971.

    Upon return to Earth, the seeds germinated without the slightest signs of issues and became known as the “Moon Trees”.

    As the seedlings matured into young trees, they were planted throughout the United States (mostly the Southeast and West), often as part of the nation’s bicentennial in 1976.

    PHOTO: Courtesy of Jesse Berry, Moon Tree in front of Sebastian County Courthouse, in Fort Smith, Arkansas
    PHOTO: Courtesy of Jesse Berry, Moon Tree in front of Sebastian County Courthouse, in Fort Smith, Arkansas

     

    In addition to being planted at state parks and various public places, a Loblolly Pine was planted at the White House, and trees were planted in Brazil, Switzerland, and presented to the Emperor of Japan, among others. Trees have also been planted in Washington Square in Philadelphia, at Valley Forge, in the International Forest of Friendship, and at various universities and NASA centers.

    Below is a list of all known “Moon Trees” in the world: 

    City and state Location Type of tree Planting date
    Auburn University,
    Alabama
    G.W. Andrews Forestry Sciences Lab Loblolly Pine * 22 October 1976
    Birmingham,
    Alabama
    Birmingham Botanical Garden Sycamore April 1976
    Montgomery,
    Alabama
    State Capitol Loblolly Pine April 1976
    Troy,
    Alabama
    Pioneer Museum of Alabama Loblolly Pine 5 August 1976
    Tuscumbia,
    Alabama
    Ivy Green Loblolly Pine 19 October 1976
    Flagstaff,
    Arizona
    Flagstaff Jr. High School Douglas Fir 30 April 1976
    Tucson,
    Arizona
    Kuiper Space Sciences Building, University of Arizona Sycamore 30 April 1976
    Ft. Smith,
    Arkansas
    Sebastian County Courthouse Loblolly Pine 15 March 1976
    Washington,
    Arkansas
    Old Washington Historic State Park Loblolly Pine 15 March 1976
    Arcata,
    California
    Humboldt State University 3 Redwoods
    Berkeley,
    California
    Tilden Nature Area Redwood 26 July 1976
    Monterey,
    California
    Friendly Plaza Redwood July 1976
    San Luis Obispo,
    California
    Mission Plaza Redwood 30 July 1976
    Sacramento,
    California
    State Capital Redwood
    Cape Canaveral,
    Florida
    Kennedy Space Center Sycamore*[3] 25 June 1976
    Gainesville,
    Florida
    University of Florida Sycamore
    Perry,
    Florida
    Forest Capital Museum State Park Loblolly Pine 26 April 1978
    Tallahassee,
    Florida
    Cascades Park Sycamore
    Tallahassee,
    Florida
    Doyle Conner Building Loblolly Pine
    Boise,
    Idaho
    Lowell Elementary School Loblolly Pine 1977
    Moscow,
    Idaho
    University of Idaho Sycamore
    Cannelton,
    Indiana
    Camp Koch Girl Scout Camp Sycamore 1976
    Indianapolis,
    Indiana
    Indiana Statehouse Sycamore 9 April 1976
    Lincoln City,
    Indiana
    Lincoln State Park Sycamore 1 May 1976
    Tell City,
    Indiana
    Forest Service Office 2 Sweetgums 1976
    Atchison,
    Kansas
    International Forest of Friendship Sycamore
    Elmer,
    Louisiana
    Palustris Experimental Forest Loblolly Pine April 1976
    New Orleans,
    Louisiana
    New Orleans River Walk Loblolly Pine June 1983
    Bethesda,
    Maryland
    Society of American Foresters Loblolly Pine 30 September 1975
    Greenbelt,
    Maryland
    Goddard Space Flight Center Sycamore 9 June 1977
    Holliston,
    Massachusetts
    Holliston Police Station Sycamore April 1976
    Mississippi State,
    Mississippi
    The Junction Sycamore 1975
    Waynesboro,
    Mississippi
    Forestry Commission Nursery Sycamore
    DeSoto,
    Missouri
    Walthers Park Sycamore
    Pisgah National Forest,
    North Carolina
    Cradle of Forestry in America Sycamore
    Asheville Botanical Garden,
    North Carolina
    UNC Asheville Sycamore
    South Brunswick,
    New Jersey
    South Brunswick High School Sycamore
    Jefferson County,
    Ohio
    Friendship Park Sycamore 29 July 1976
    Eugene,
    Oregon
    Erb Memorial Union, University of Oregon (Initially planted at Willamette Hall, moved in 1980) Douglas Fir 1976
    Roseburg,
    Oregon
    U.S. Veteran’s Hospital Douglas Fir 3 May 1976
    Corvallis,
    Oregon
    Peavy Hall, Oregon State University Douglas Fir 1976
    Salem,
    Oregon
    State Capitol Building Douglas Fir 30 April 1976
    Salem,
    Oregon
    Private Residence 2 Douglas Firs 1973
    Ebensburg,
    Pennsylvania
    Cambria County Courthouse Sycamore 29 June 1976
    Hollidaysburg,
    Pennsylvania
    Highland Hall Sycamore 5 May 1976
    King of Prussia,
    Pennsylvania
    Lockheed Martin Space Systems Building Sycamore 30 June 1976
    Newtown/Langhorne,
    Pennsylvania
    Core Creek Park Sycamore 30 April 1976
    Philadelphia,
    Pennsylvania
    Washington Square Sycamore* 6 May 1975
    Knoxville,
    Tennessee
    University of Tennessee Loblolly Pine April 1976
    Sewanee,
    Tennessee
    University of the South Sycamore April 1976
    Tullahoma,
    Tennessee
    Arnold Air Force Base Loblolly Pine April 1976
    Olympia,
    Washington
    State Capitol Building Douglas Fir
    Huntsville,
    Alabama
    U.S. Space and Rocket Center 5 Sycamores,
    2 Pines *
    29 October 1976
    Tuskegee,
    Alabama
    VA Hospital (CAVHCS) Loblolly Pine * 1976
    Little Rock,
    Arkansas
    Forestry Commission Headquarters Loblolly Pine * 15 March 1976
    Monticello,
    Arkansas
    University of Arkansas at Monticello Loblolly Pine * 1977?
    New Orleans,
    Louisiana
    NASA Michoud Assembly Facility Loblolly Pine (2?) * July 1976
    North Pembroke,
    Massachusetts
    Historical Society Sycamore? * April 1976
    Albuquerque,
    New Mexico
    Civic Plaza Douglas Fir *
    Illinois Valley,
    Oregon
    Siskiyou Smoke Jumper Base Douglas Fir *
    Washington,
    D.C.
    White House Loblolly Pine * 19 January 1977
    Plano, Texas Plano Senior High School Sycamore 4 November 2009
    Brasília,
    Brazil
    Ibama Central Building’s garden Sweetgum 14 December 1980
    Tradate,
    Italy
    Appiano Gentile Park Loblolly Pine 10 October 2011
    Bracey,
    Virginia
    River Ridge Golf & Camping Club Sycamore 31 January 1971
    *Doswell, Virginia Kings Dominion [4]
    Lucerne,
    Switzerland
    Swiss Transport Museum Sycamore 08 October 2011

     

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