Where Are Those Moon Trees Now?

Apollo 14 "Moon Trees" Need to Be Found

Plaque at the base of the Fort Smith, Arkansas, Moon Tree.
Jesse Berry/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 4.0

On January 31, 1971, while Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell made their historic third lunar landing of Apollo 14, Stuart Roosa orbited the moon alone with 500 tree seeds. Roosa had been a smokejumper, maintained a U.S. Forest Service connection, and packed away loblolly pine seed, sycamore seed, sweetgum seed, redwood seed, and Douglas fir seed on the flight.

Moon Tree History

According to an article on Space.com, "Forest Service geneticists began germinating them.

Nearly all the seeds germinated successfully." NASA indicated that seeds were sent to the Southern Forest Service Station in Mississippi and to the USFS Western Station in California to attempt germination. Surprisingly, nearly all the seeds germinated successfully, and the Forest Service had some 420 to 450 seedlings.

"Known as the 'Moon Trees', plantings were made in such spots as Washington Square in Philadelphia, at Valley Forge, at several universities and NASA centers. Second generation Moon Trees have also been planted from seeds or cuttings from an original 'Moon Tree'" reports Space.com. Many plantings were done by state agencies during Bicentennial celebrations between 1975 and 1976.

Unfortunately, Stuart Roosa died in December 1994. The trees now stand as a tribute, not only to the Apollo program, but to astronaut Stuart Roosa and to his botanical/forest interests.

Where Did the Moon Trees End Up?

There is just one problem.

No one knows exactly where many of these trees are planted.

Dr. Dave Williams, a curator at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s National Space Science Data Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, wants to find these trees. Dr. Williams told SPACE.com, "I think the whole idea of bringing tree seeds up into space and then planting them back here on Earth allows us to have a palpable connection of sorts with space and the Apollo program".

All known locations of the "Moon Trees" are listed on a site maintained by Dr. Williams. This might be the only list and "systematic tracking made of the disposition of all the trees" in existence.

If you know of a "Moon Tree", please send a message to David Williams via his web site. This special web site has been created to "help replant interest and understanding regarding the 'Moon Trees'."