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.
A Moon Tree in Keystone Heights, Florida
A Moon Tree in Keystone Heights, Florida
Certificate of Authenticity of the Moon Tree in Piedmont, South Carolina.
Certificate of Authenticity of the Moon Tree in Piedmont, South Carolina.
Moon Tree in Piedmont, South Carolina, 1980s
Moon Tree in Piedmont, South Carolina, 1980s
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] In 2022, NASA announced it would be reviving the moon tree program by carrying 1,000 seeds aboard the upcoming Artemis 1.[4]

History

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.[5]

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.[6] 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.[7] As of 2022, efforts were continuing to identify and locate existing trees;[6] the NASA page remains active.[8]

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.[9]

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.[10]

Locations

Table key
Indicates a tree that is no longer alive.
Indicates the exact date of planting is unknown.

United States

City State Location Species Date planted Ref.
Salem  Oregon Private Residence 2 Douglas Firs 1973 ‡
Wiggins  Mississippi Girl Scouts Camp Iti Kana Sycamore 1974 ‡
Starkville  Mississippi Dorman Hall, Mississippi State University Sycamore 1975 ‡ [11]
Philadelphia  Pennsylvania Washington Square Park Sycamore † May 6, 1975 [12]
Bethesda  Maryland Society of American Foresters Loblolly Pine September 30, 1975 [13]
Princeton  West Virginia Forestry Sciences Laboratory Northeastern Research Center Sycamore October 18, 1975 [14]
Fort Smith  Arkansas Sebastian County Courthouse Loblolly Pine March 15, 1976 [15]
Little Rock  Arkansas Forestry Commission Headquarters Loblolly Pine † March 15, 1976 [15]
Washington  Arkansas Old Washington Historic State Park Loblolly Pine March 15, 1976 [16]
Asheville  North Carolina Botanical Gardens at Asheville Sycamore March 19, 1976 [17]
College Station  Texas D. A. "Andy" Anderson Arboretum Sycamore † March 21, 1976 [18]
Birmingham  Alabama Birmingham Botanical Gardens, near Lane Park Sycamore April 1976 ‡ [19]
Montgomery  Alabama Alabama State Capitol Building Loblolly Pine April 1976 ‡ [20]
North Pembroke  Massachusetts Pembroke Historical Society Sycamore † April 1976 ‡ [21]
Elmer  Louisiana Palustris Experiment Station, Kisatchie National Forest Loblolly Pine April 1976 ‡ [22]
Knoxville  Tennessee Forestry Experiment Station, University of Tennessee Loblolly Pine April 1976 ‡ [23]
Sewanee  Tennessee Woods Laboratories, University of the South Sycamore April 1976 ‡ [24]
Elizabethton  Tennessee Fort Watauga, Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area Sycamore † April 1976 ‡ [25]
Tullahoma  Tennessee Arnold Air Force Base Loblolly Pine † April 1976 ‡ [26]
Olympia  Washington Washington State Capitol Building Douglas Fir April 1976 ‡ [27]
Indianapolis  Indiana Indiana Statehouse Sycamore April 9, 1976 [28]
Albuquerque  New Mexico Harry E. Kinney Civic Plaza Douglas Fir † April 7, 1976 [29]
Lansing  Michigan Michigan State Capitol Building Sycamore † April 22, 1976 [30]
Wyoming  Michigan Wyoming Police Department Sycamore † April 23, 1976 [31]
Niles  Michigan Fernwood Botanical Gardens and Nature Preserve Sycamore April 23, 1976 [32]
Salt Lake City  Utah Utah State Capitol Building Douglas Fir † April 28, 1976 [33]
Flagstaff  Arizona Frances Short Pond, formerly Flagstaff Junior High School Douglas Fir † April 30, 1976 [34]
Tucson  Arizona Kuiper Space Sciences Building, University of Arizona Sycamore April 30, 1976 [35]
Des Moines  Iowa Iowa State Capitol Building Sycamore April 30, 1976 [36]
Middletown  Pennsylvania Core Creek Park Sycamore April 30, 1976 [37]
Salem  Oregon Oregon State Capitol Building Douglas Fir April 30, 1976 [38]
Hampton  Virginia Albert W. Patrick III, Elementary School Sycamore April 30, 1976 [39]
Arcata  California California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt 3 Redwoods May 1976 ‡ [40]
Athens  Georgia Athens-Clarke County Planning Department Loblolly Pine May 1976 ‡ [41]
Lincoln City  Indiana Lincoln State Park Sycamore May 1, 1976 [42]
Roseburg  Oregon Roseburg Veteran Affairs Medical Center Douglas Fir May 3, 1976 [43]
Hollidaysburg  Pennsylvania Highland Hall Sycamore May 5, 1976 [44]
Boise  Idaho Idaho State Capitol Building Douglas Fir † May 7, 1976 [45]
Capitan  New Mexico Smokey Bear State Park Sycamore † May 15, 1976 [46]
Topton  Pennsylvania Borough Hall Sycamore June 20, 1976 [47]
Cape Canaveral  Florida Kennedy Space Center Sycamore † June 25, 1976 [48]
Ebensburg  Pennsylvania Cambria County Courthouse Sycamore June 29, 1976 [49]
King of Prussia  Pennsylvania Lockheed Martin Space Systems Building Sycamore June 30, 1976 [50]
Missoula  Montana University Center Mall, University of Montana Douglas Fir July 17, 1976 [51]
New Orleans  Louisiana NASA Michoud Assembly Facility Loblolly Pine † July 20, 1976 [52]
Santa Fe  New Mexico New Mexico State Capitol Building Douglas Fir July 22, 1976 [53]
Atchison  Kansas International Forest of Friendship Sycamore July 24, 1976 [54]
Berkeley  California Northwest area of Tilden Nature Area 2 Redwoods July 26, 1976 [55]
Monterey  California Friendly Plaza, near Colton Hall Redwood July 27, 1976 [56]
Steubenville  Ohio Friendship Park Sycamore July 29, 1976 [57]
San Luis Obispo  California Mission Plaza Redwood July 30, 1976 [58]
Troy  Alabama Pioneer Museum of Alabama Loblolly Pine August 5, 1976 [59]
Silver City  New Mexico Gough Park Sycamore August 14, 1976 [60]
Alamogordo  New Mexico New Mexico Museum of Space History Sycamore † October 5, 1976 [61]
Tuscumbia  Alabama Ivy Green, historic monument and birthplace of Helen Keller Loblolly Pine October 19, 1976 [62]
Auburn  Alabama G.W. Andrews Forestry Sciences Lab, Auburn University Loblolly Pine † October 22, 1976 [63]
Huntsville  Alabama U.S. Space and Rocket Center 5 Sycamores, 2 Pines * October 29, 1976 [64]
Tuskegee  Alabama Veteran Affairs Hospital (CAVHCS) Loblolly Pine † 1976 ‡ [19]
Sacramento  California California State Capitol Building Redwood 1976 ‡ [65]
El Dorado Hills  California St. Stephen's Lutheran Church Redwood † 1976 ‡ [66]
Tallahassee  Florida Florida Department of Agriculture Loblolly Pine 1976 ‡ [67]
Waycross  Georgia Okefenokee Regional Educational Service Agency Loblolly Pine 1976 ‡ [68]
Cannelton  Indiana Girl Scouts Camp Koch Sycamore 1976 ‡ [50]
Tell City  Indiana Hoosier National Forest Service Office 2 Sweetgums 1976 ‡ [69]
Monmouth  New Jersey Monmouth County Courthouse Sycamore † 1976 ‡ [70]
Clyde  North Carolina Disc Golf Course, Haywood Community College Sycamore 1976 ‡ [71]
Draper  Utah Lone Peak Conservation Center Sycamore 1976 ‡ [72]
Columbus  Ohio Franklin Park Conservatory Sycamore † 1976 ‡ [73]
Corvallis  Oregon Peavy Hall, Oregon State University Douglas Fir 1976 ‡ [74]
Cave Junction  Oregon Siskiyou Smokejumper Base, Illinois Valley Airport Douglas Fir † 1976 ‡ [75]
Eugene  Oregon Erb Memorial Union, University of Oregon Douglas Fir 1976 ‡ [76]
Doswell  Virginia Kings Dominion Amusement Park 2 Sycamores (1 dead) 1976 ‡ [77]
Washington, D.C.  District of Columbia Rose Garden, White House Loblolly Pine † January 19, 1977 [78]
San Dimas  California San Dimas Technology and Development Center Redwood March 29, 1977 [79]
Monticello  Arkansas University of Arkansas at Monticello Loblolly Pine † 1977 ‡ [80]
Gainesville  Florida University of Florida Sycamore 1977 ‡ [81]
Boise  Idaho Lowell Elementary School Loblolly Pine 1977 ‡ [82]
Greenbelt  Maryland Goddard Space Flight Center Sycamore June 9, 1977 [83]
Perry  Florida Forest Capital Museum State Park Loblolly Pine April 29, 1978 [84]
Hamilton  Virginia Scott Jenkins Memorial Park Sweetgum September 1978 ‡ [85]
Westlake  Texas Private Residence Sycamore 1978 ‡ [86]
Lockeford  California Lockeford Plant Materials Center Redwood 1979 ‡ [87]
Dillsburg  Pennsylvania Dillsburg Elementary School Sycamore April 29, 1983 [88]
New Orleans  Louisiana New Orleans River Walk Loblolly Pine † June 1983 ‡ [21]
Holliston  Massachusetts Holliston Police Station Sycamore 1982 ‡ [89]
Keystone Heights  Florida Keystone Heights Library Sycamore 1984 ‡ [90]
Plano  Texas Plano Senior High School Sycamore † November 4, 2009 [91]
Houston  Texas NASA's Johnson Space Center[citation needed] Loblolly Pine February 2016 ‡
Tallahassee  Florida Cascades Park Sycamore Unknown [92]
Moscow  Idaho Administration Building, University of Idaho Sycamore † Unknown [93]
Waynesboro  Mississippi Forestry Commission Nursery Sycamore Unknown [86]
DeSoto  Missouri Walthers Park Sycamore Unknown [94]
Brevard  North Carolina Cradle of Forestry, Pisgah National Forest Sycamore Unknown [95]
Elkton  Oregon D.L. Phipps State Forest Nursery Douglas Fir Unknown [96]
Coudersport  Pennsylvania Coudersport Area Recreational Park Sycamore Unknown [97]
Piedmont  South Carolina Private Residence Sycamore Unknown [98]

Other countries

City Country Location Species Date planted Ref.
Brasília  Brazil Institute for Environment and Natural Renewable Resources Sweetgum January 14, 1980 [99]
Santa Rosa  Brazil Soybean Fairgrounds, Parque Municipal de Exposições Redwood August 18, 1981 [100]
Cambará do Sul  Brazil St. Joseph Central Square Redwood September 26, 1982 [101]
Lucerne  Switzerland Swiss Transport Museum[citation needed] Sycamore 15 August 1976 (not planted until later)


See also

References

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  3. ^ Black, Richard (19 July 2005). "Trees... from the Moon". BBC News.
  4. ^ "NASA, USDA Forest Service Fly Next Generation of Moon Tree Seeds on Artemis I". NASA. August 18, 2022. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  5. ^ Williams, David R. (28 July 2009). "The "Moon Trees"". Goddard Space Flight Center. NASA. Retrieved 7 August 2009.
  6. ^ a b 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.
  7. ^ 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, wired.com.
  8. ^ The "Moon Trees", official NASA website, accessed Feb 3, 2022.
  9. ^ Massey, Robert (2021-03-30). "Can you help us find the Moon Trees?". Royal Astronomical Society. Retrieved 2021-04-23.
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