Bicentennial Moon Tree, planted in 1975 in Washington Square, Philadelphia
Bicentennial Moon Tree, planted in 1975 in Washington Square, Philadelphia
Moon Tree in front of Sebastian County Courthouse, in Fort Smith, Arkansas
Moon Tree in front of Sebastian County Courthouse, in Fort Smith, Arkansas
Plaque at the base of the Fort Smith, Arkansas, Moon Tree.
Plaque at the base of the Fort Smith, Arkansas, Moon Tree.
Moon Tree, Waycross, Georgia
Moon Tree, Waycross, Georgia

Moon trees are trees grown from 500 seeds taken into orbit around the Moon by Stuart Roosa, the Command Module Pilot on the Apollo 14 mission in 1971. The idea was proposed to Roosa, who had been a smoke jumper, by Ed Cliff, then the Chief of the United States Forest Service.[1] Seeds for the experiment were chosen from five species of tree: loblolly pine, sycamore, sweetgum, redwood, and Douglas fir.[2][3][4][5][6]


After the flight, the seeds were sent to the southern Forest Service station in Gulfport, Mississippi, and to the western station in Placerville, California, with the intent to germinate them. Nearly all the seeds germinated successfully, and after a few years, the Forest Service had about 420 seedlings. Some of these were planted alongside their Earth-bound counterparts, which were specifically set aside as controls. After more than 40 years, there was no discernible difference between the two classes of trees. Most of the "Moon trees" were given away in 1975 and 1976 to state forestry organizations, in order to be planted as part of the nation's bicentennial celebration. Since the trees were all of southern or western species, not all states received trees. A Loblolly Pine was planted at the White House, and trees were planted in Brazil, Switzerland, and presented to Emperor Hirohito, among others.[2]

The locations of many of the trees that were planted from these seeds were largely unknown for decades. In 1996, a third-grade teacher, Joan Goble, and her students found a tree in their local area with a plaque identifying it as a moon tree. Goble sent an email to NASA, and reached employee Dave Williams. Williams was unaware of the trees' existence, as were most of his colleagues at NASA. Upon doing some research, Williams found some old newspaper clippings that described the initial actions taken by Roosa to bring these seeds to space and home to be planted.[3]

Williams posted a page on NASA's official website asking for public help to find the trees. The page also contained a table listing the locations and species of known moon trees. Williams began to hear from people around the United States who had seen trees with plaques identifying them as moon trees. Williams began to manage a database listing details about such trees, including their location and species. In 2011, an article in Wired magazine described the effort, and provided Williams' email address, encouraging anyone to write who might have data on existing moon trees.[4] As of 2022, efforts were continuing to identify and locate existing trees;[3] the NASA page remains active.[7]

In March 2021, the Royal Astronomical Society and the UK Space Agency asked for the help of the public to identify up to 15 Moon Trees that may be growing in the United Kingdom. As of April 2021, none of the trees that supposedly came to the UK have been identified.[8]

Current efforts

The Moon Tree Foundation is an organization run by Roosa's daughter, Rosemary, which seeks to plant moon trees in regions around the world. The foundation sponsors and hosts ceremonies to plant new trees, with seeds produced by the original generation of trees that grew from the seeds carried by Roosa.[9]


United States

City State Location Species Date planted Ref.
Starkville  Mississippi Dorman Hall, Mississippi State University Sycamore 1975 [10]
Philadelphia  Pennsylvania Washington Square Park Sycamore* May 6, 1975 [11]
Bethesda  Maryland Society of American Foresters Loblolly Pine September 30, 1975 [12]
Fort Smith  Arkansas Sebastian County Courthouse Loblolly Pine March 15, 1976 [13]
Washington  Arkansas Old Washington Historic State Park Loblolly Pine March 15, 1976 [14]
Asheville  North Carolina Botanical Gardens at Asheville Sycamore March 19, 1976 [15]
Birmingham  Alabama Birmingham Botanical Gardens, near Lane Park Sycamore April 1976 [16]
Montgomery  Alabama Alabama State Capitol Building Loblolly Pine April 1976 [17]
Elmer  Louisiana Palustris Experiment Station, Kisatchie National Forest Loblolly Pine April 1976 [18]
Knoxville  Tennessee Forestry Experiment Station, University of Tennessee Loblolly Pine April 1976 [19]
Sewanee  Tennessee Woods Laboratories, University of the South Sycamore April 1976 [20]
Elizabethton  Tennessee Fort Watauga, Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area Sycamore* April 1976 [21]
Tullahoma  Tennessee Arnold Air Force Base Loblolly Pine* April 1976 [22]
Olympia  Washington Washington State Capitol Building Douglas Fir April 1976 [23]
Indianapolis  Indiana Indiana Statehouse Sycamore April 9, 1976 [24]
Lansing  Michigan Michigan State Capitol Building Sycamore* April 22, 1976 [25]
Flagstaff  Arizona Frances Short Pond, formerly Flagstaff Junior High School Douglas Fir* April 30, 1976 [26]
Tucson  Arizona Kuiper Space Sciences Building, University of Arizona Sycamore April 30, 1976 [27]
Salem  Oregon Oregon State Capitol Building Douglas Fir April 30, 1976 [28]
Middletown  Pennsylvania Core Creek Park Sycamore April 30, 1976 [29]
Arcata  California California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt 3 Redwoods May 1976 [30]
Athens  Georgia Athens-Clarke County Planning Department Loblolly Pine May 1976 [31]
Lincoln City  Indiana Lincoln State Park Sycamore May 1, 1976 [32]
Roseburg  Oregon Roseburg Veteran Affairs Medical Center Douglas Fir May 3, 1976 [33]
Hollidaysburg  Pennsylvania Highland Hall Sycamore May 5, 1976 [34]
Boise  Idaho Idaho State Capitol Building Douglas Fir* May 7, 1976 [35]
Cape Canaveral  Florida Kennedy Space Center Sycamore* June 25, 1976 [36]
Ebensburg  Pennsylvania Cambria County Courthouse Sycamore June 29, 1976 [37]
King of Prussia  Pennsylvania Lockheed Martin Space Systems Building Sycamore June 30, 1976 [38]
Atchison  Kansas International Forest of Friendship Sycamore July 24, 1976 [39]
Berkeley  California Northwest area of Tilden Nature Area 2 Redwoods July 26, 1976 [40]
Monterey  California Friendly Plaza, near Colton Hall Redwood July 27, 1976 [41]
Steubenville  Ohio Friendship Park Sycamore July 29, 1976 [42]
San Luis Obispo  California Mission Plaza Redwood July 30, 1976 [43]
Troy  Alabama Pioneer Museum of Alabama Loblolly Pine August 5, 1976 [44]
Tuscumbia  Alabama Ivy Green, historic monument and birthplace of Helen Keller Loblolly Pine October 19, 1976 [45]
Auburn  Alabama G.W. Andrews Forestry Sciences Lab, Auburn University Loblolly Pine* October 22, 1976 [46]
Sacramento  California California State Capitol Building Redwood 1976 [47]
Tallahassee  Florida Doyle Conner Building, Plant Industry Headquarters Loblolly Pine 1976 [48]
Waycross  Georgia Okefenokee Regional Educational Service Agency Loblolly Pine 1976 [49]
Cannelton  Indiana Camp Koch Girl Scout Camp Sycamore 1976 [38]
Tell City  Indiana Hoosier National Forest Service Office 2 Sweetgums 1976 [50]
Monmouth  New Jersey Monmouth County Courthouse Sycamore* 1976 [51]
Corvallis  Oregon Peavy Hall, Oregon State University Douglas Fir 1976 [52]
Eugene  Oregon Erb Memorial Union, University of Oregon Douglas Fir 1976 (moved and replanted, 1987) [53]
Gainesville  Florida University of Florida Sycamore 1977 [54]
Boise  Idaho Lowell Elementary School Loblolly Pine 1977 [55]
Greenbelt  Maryland Goddard Space Flight Center Sycamore June 9, 1977 [56]
Perry  Florida Forest Capital Museum State Park Loblolly Pine April 29, 1978 [57]
Lockeford  California Lockeford Plant Materials Center Redwood 1979 [58]
New Orleans  Louisiana New Orleans River Walk Loblolly Pine* June 1983 [59]
Holliston  Massachusetts Holliston Police Station Sycamore 1982 [60]
Keystone Heights  Florida Keystone Heights Library Sycamore 1984 [61]
Tallahassee  Florida Cascades Park Sycamore Unknown [62]
Moscow  Idaho Administration Building, University of Idaho Sycamore* Unknown [63]
Waynesboro  Mississippi Forestry Commission Nursery Sycamore Unknown
DeSoto  Missouri Walthers Park Sycamore Unknown
Brevard  North Carolina Biltmore Forest School, Pisgah National Forest Sycamore Unknown
Salem  Oregon Private Residence 2 Douglas Firs 1973
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  Alabama Forestry Commission Headquarters 15 March 1976
Monticello  Arkansas University of Arkansas at Monticello 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
Washington, D.C.  District of Columbia White House Loblolly Pine * 19 January 1977
Plano  Texas Plano Senior High School Sycamore * 4 November 2009
Houston  Texas NASA Johnson Space Center Loblolly Pine February 2016[dubious ]
Silver City  New Mexico Gough Park Sycamore 14 August 1976 [64]
Bracey  Virginia River Ridge Golf & Camping Club Sycamore 31 January 1971
Doswell  Virginia Kings Dominion Sycamore circa 1976 [65]

Other countries

City Country Location Species Date planted Ref.
Brasília Brazil Ibama Central Building's garden Sweetgum 14 November 1980 [66]
Santa Rosa Brazil Parque Municipal de Exposições Redwood 18 August 1981
Tradate Italy Appiano Gentile Park Loblolly Pine 10 October 2011
Lucerne Switzerland Swiss Transport Museum Sycamore 15 August 1976 (not planted until later)

An asterisk (*) denotes a tree that is no longer alive.

See also


  1. ^ Williams, Gerald; Severance, Carol; Lewis, James G. (2009-06-18). "Chiefs of the U.S. Forest Service". Forest History Society. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 7 August 2009.
  2. ^ a b Williams, David R. (28 July 2009). "The "Moon Trees"". Goddard Space Flight Center. NASA. Retrieved 7 August 2009.
  3. ^ a b c We Almost Forgot About the Moon Trees: A collection of tree seeds that went round and round the moon was scattered far and wide back home, by Marina Koren. The seeds orbited the Moon, but were not landed on it. The Atlantic, January 31, 2022.
  4. ^ a b The Mystery of the Missing Moon Trees: 15 years after NASA astronomer David Williams started searching for them, hundreds of trees grown from space-faring seeds are still missing. The “moon trees,” whose seeds circled the moon 34 times in Apollo 14 astronaut Stuart Roosa‘s pocket, were welcomed back to Earth with great fanfare in 1971. February 10, 2011,
  5. ^ "Race Against Time to Find Apollo 14's Lost Voyagers: 'Moon Trees'". Science Daily. February 10, 2011.
  6. ^ Black, Richard (19 July 2005). "Trees... from the Moon". BBC News.
  7. ^ The "Moon Trees", official NASA website, accessed Feb 3, 2022.
  8. ^ Massey, Robert (2021-03-30). "Can you help us find the Moon Trees?". Royal Astronomical Society. Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  9. ^ Moon tree Planting ceremony, official website of Moon Tree Foundation, accessed February 3, 2022.
  10. ^ Steinberg, Sasha (July 18, 2019). "As NASA celebrates Apollo 50th anniversary, MSU recognizes lineage of its 'Moon Sycamore' tree". Mississippi State University. Retrieved July 4, 2022.
  11. ^ McDevitt, John (September 2, 2011). "Dead 'Moon Tree' In Washington Square Park Will Be Replaced". CBS Philly. Retrieved July 14, 2022.
  12. ^ Botkin, Erica (October 1, 2014). "Moon Trees". College of the Redwoods. Retrieved June 28, 2022.
  13. ^ Lee, Brittney (August 20, 2018). "Arkansas Moon Trees: Out of This World". Only in Arkansas. Retrieved June 21, 2022.
  14. ^ "Arkansas grows 'moon trees'". Fox News. January 8, 2015. Retrieved June 21, 2022.
  15. ^ "Asheville's Moon Tree". The Pennsylvania Rambler. August 28, 2018. Retrieved July 4, 2022.
  16. ^ Hansen, Jeff (February 9, 2011). "40 years after splashdown, Birmingham Botanical Gardens a tranquil base for tree grown from seeds that went to the moon". The Birmingham News. Retrieved June 20, 2022.
  17. ^ Shryock, John (July 19, 2019). "Have you ever seen Montgomery's 'Moon Tree'?". WSFA-12. Retrieved June 20, 2022.
  18. ^ Zeringue, Jeff (March 4, 2019). "Moon tree mystery unsolved, still funny". Louisiana Forestry Association. Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  19. ^ "Moon Trees #24". Tennessee Urban Forestry Council. 2013. Retrieved July 14, 2022.
  20. ^ Priestley, Mary (Spring 2002). "Preserving the Moon Tree and Other Members of the Campus Canopy" (PDF). The Plant Press. Vol. 6, no. 2. Sewanee: The University of the South. p. 1. Retrieved July 14, 2022.
  21. ^ Zepp, Louise. "Trees of Note". The Tennessee Conservationist. Retrieved July 14, 2022.
  22. ^ "Tennessee's four moon trees". NOOGAtoday. March 4, 2021. Retrieved July 14, 2022.
  23. ^ Erickson, Annie (March 13, 2020). "Olympia's Moon Tree just had triplets". KING-TV. Retrieved July 14, 2022.
  24. ^ Smith, Casey (July 18, 2019). "Across Indiana, trees are growing from seeds that went to the Moon. Here's where you can find them". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved June 26, 2022. On the east lawn of the Statehouse in Indianapolis, a Sycamore was planted on April 9, 1976.
  25. ^ "Moon Tree Planted, Removed". Ironwood Daily Globe. April 23, 1976. p. 7. Retrieved June 28, 2022.
  26. ^ Houk, Rose (July 7, 2021). "Earth Notes: Southwestern Douglas-Fir Trees". KNAU. Retrieved June 20, 2022. In 1976, a Douglas-fir tree was planted by the Frances Short Pond in Flagstaff.
  27. ^ Desrochers, Daniel (September 29, 2015). "UA's moon tree struggles in dry climate". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved June 21, 2022.
  28. ^ Schneider, Will (April 30, 2017). "Salem Moon Tree". Public History PDX. Portland State University. Retrieved July 7, 2022.
  29. ^ Sofield, Tom (July 20, 2018). "'Moon Tree' At Core Creek Park Lives Up To Out-Of-This-World Name". LevittownNow. Retrieved July 14, 2022.
  30. ^ "Unraveling the Moon Tree Mystery". California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt. October 8, 2009. Retrieved June 21, 2022.
  31. ^ "Moon Tree". Athens-Clarke County Website. May 2021. Retrieved June 23, 2022.
  32. ^ "Moon Tree Continues to Thrive at Lincoln State Park". Friends of Lincoln State Park. June 22, 2020. Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  33. ^ "Apollo 14 Moon Trees". Highway199. May 5, 2011. Retrieved July 4, 2022.
  34. ^ Crumrine, Chad (June 30, 2022). "Hollidaysburg 'Moon Tree' Symbol of American History". Morrisons Cove Herald. Retrieved July 7, 2022.
  35. ^ "Idaho Capitol Tree". Goddard Space Flight Center. NASA. March 3, 2022. Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  36. ^ Kelly, Emre (September 21, 2017). "'Moon Tree' that traveled on Apollo mission and planted at KSC toppled by Hurricane Irma". Florida Today. Retrieved June 21, 2022.
  37. ^ Ramirez, Chris (February 15, 2011). "NASA 'detective' on track of America's 'moon trees'". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved July 7, 2022. ((cite news)): Cite has empty unknown parameter: |1= (help)
  38. ^ a b Zuckerman, Catherine (July 8, 2019). "Trees that traveled to space now live on Earth. Here's where to find them". National Geographic. Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  39. ^ Wenner, Anna (February 18, 2011). "'Moon tree' at home in Atchison". The Topeka Capital-Journal. Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  40. ^ O'Brien, Matt (December 14, 2016). "'Moon trees' mark Tilden Regional Park". The Mercury News. Retrieved April 29, 2021.
  41. ^ Skvor, Gabriel (May 16, 2013). "Forty years ago a Monterey resident orbited the moon with the Apollo 14 astronauts". Monterey County Weekly. Retrieved June 21, 2022.
  42. ^ Jankowski, Bob. "Moon Seedling Planted". Herald-Star. Steubenville, Ohio. Retrieved July 4, 2022.
  43. ^ "A tree in SLO County orbited the moon — yes, really". San Luis Obispo. April 22, 2019. Retrieved June 21, 2022.
  44. ^ Treadwell, Jaine (July 20, 2019). "MOON TREE: Pioneer Museum among select sites for special tree". Troy Messenger. Retrieved June 20, 2022.
  45. ^ Corey, Russ (July 28, 2019). "Moon tree remains an attraction at Ivy Gree". TimesDaily. Retrieved June 20, 2022.
  46. ^ Eastwood, Jon (July 6, 2019). "Grown from a seed that orbited the Moon in 1971. See Birmingham Botanical Gardens' Moon Tree". Bham Now. Retrieved June 20, 2022. Alabama had five Moon Trees. Four are still alive. Auburn University, G.W Andrews Forestry Sciences Lab.
  47. ^ Turner, Robert (December 2020). "No Annexation Without Representation". Sactown Magazine. Retrieved June 20, 2022.
  48. ^ Davidson-Hiers, CD (July 16, 2019). "Bark side of the moon: Seeds from Apollo 14 mission rooted in Tallahassee". Tallahassee Democrat. Retrieved June 23, 2022.
  49. ^ Ford, Wayne (January 15, 2021). "As a seed, it orbited the moon on Apollo 14. 50 years later, this Athens pine is 'thriving'". Athens Banner-Herald. Retrieved June 23, 2022.
  50. ^ Sutter, Chris (July 12, 2021). "'Moon trees' attracting visitors to southern Indiana decades after a trip to space". WDRB News. Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  51. ^ "Moon tree readied for courthouse site". Daily Register. Shrewsbury, New Jersey. June 11, 1976. p. 17. Retrieved July 4, 2022.
  52. ^ DeWitt, Joce (October 11, 2012). "OSU recognizes Moon Tree as living history". Corvallis Gazette-Times. Retrieved July 7, 2022.
  53. ^ Davies, Sararosa (November 7, 2018). "To space and back: The story of UO's 'Moon Tree'". Daily Emerald. Retrieved July 4, 2022.
  54. ^ Arndorfer, Bob (October 3, 2005). "Tracing the history of UF's moon tree". The Gainesville Sun. Archived from the original on March 25, 2021. Retrieved June 22, 2022.
  55. ^ This Boise Tree Has Been To The Moon And Back (Video). Idaho Statesman. February 7, 2018.
  56. ^ Foster, Jim (September 18, 2002). "Moon Tree". Universities Space Research Association. Retrieved June 28, 2022.
  57. ^ "Seedling traveled 250,000 miles to moon and back". Perry News-Herald. October 22, 2011. p. 3. Retrieved June 22, 2022.
  58. ^ Forgione, Mary (July 20, 2019). "Where to find California's moon trees, grown from seeds taken aboard an Apollo mission". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 21, 2022. [A]nd at least one at a Forest Service site in Lockeford.
  59. ^ Hester, Jessica Leigh (February 1, 2019). "Whatever Happened to All the Moon Trees?". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved June 26, 2022. In New Orleans, for instance, a Moon pine was removed after sustaining damage in Hurricane Katrina.
  60. ^ Hosmer, Kerri (July 26, 1998). "From the Moon to Holliston". Middlesex News.
  61. ^ Sealey, Jean (February 6, 2015). "Keystone Heights enjoys link to Apollo 14 mission". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved June 22, 2022.
  62. ^ "Meet Tallahassee's 'moon trees'". Tallahassee Democrat. July 16, 2019. Retrieved June 22, 2022.
  63. ^ Brockett, Bailey (July 22, 2022). "Local Legends: Recalling Moscow's moon tree". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Retrieved June 23, 2022.
  64. ^ 'Moon Tree' dedication here Sunday, Silver City Daily Press, August 14, 1976
  65. ^ "The Moon Tree That Orbited the Moon 34 Times". 4 May 2016.
  66. ^ Correio Braziliense, November 15, 1980