Moon Tree at Camp Koch, Indiana Stuart Roosa Goddard Moon Tree

The "Moon Trees"


Apollo 14 launched in the late afternoon of January 31, 1971 on what was to be our third trip to the lunar surface. 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/USFS project. Upon return to Earth, the seeds were germinated by the Forest Service. Known as the "Moon Trees", the resulting seedlings were planted throughout the United States (often as part of the nation's bicentennial in 1976) and the world. They stand as a tribute to astronaut Roosa and the Apollo program.

The project began after Roosa was chosen for the Apollo 14 mission. Ed Cliff, Chief of the Forest Service, knew of Stuart Roosa from his days as a smoke jumper and contacted him about bringing seeds into space. Stan Krugman of the Forest Service was put in charge of the project and selected the seeds for the experiment. Seeds were chosen from five different types of trees: loblolly pine, sycamore, sweetgum, redwood, and Douglas fir. The seeds were classified and sorted, and sealed in small plastic bags that were stored in a metal cannister. Control seeds were kept on Earth for later comparison. Roosa carried possibly 2000 or more seeds in the cannister in his personal kit, a small canvas pouch that stayed with him as he orbited the Moon in the command module "Kitty Hawk" in February, 1971. Unfortunately, the seed bags burst open during the decontamination procedures after their return to Earth, and the seeds were scattered about the chamber and exposed to vacuum, and it was thought they might not be viable.

Stan Krugman collected the seeds and an attempt at germinating some of the seeds was made in Houston. Somewhat surprisingly, it proved successful and the seeds started growing, but they did not survive long because the facilities there were inadequate. A year later the remaining seeds were sent to the southern Forest Service station in Gulfport, Mississippi (sycamore, loblolly pine, and sweetgum) and to the western station in Placerville, California (redwood and Douglas fir) to attempt germination. Many of the seeds, and later cuttings, were successful and grew into viable seedlings. Some of these were planted with their Earth-bound counterparts as controls, (as might be expected, after over forty years there is no discernable difference) but most were given away in 1975 and 1976 to many state forestry organizations to be planted as part of the nation's bicentennial celebration. These trees were southern and western species, so not all states received trees. 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. The Moon Tree shown at top left is a sycamore growing at Koch Girl Scout Camp in Cannelton, Indiana and at top right at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. A list of Moon Tree locations can be found at the bottom of the page.

Stuart Roosa was born on 16 August 1933, in Durango, Colorado. He worked for the Forest Service in the early 1950's as a smoke jumper fighting fires and later joined the Air Force and became a test pilot. He was one of 19 people selected for the astronaut class of 1966 and was part of the astronaut support crew for Apollo 9. Following Apollo 14, Roosa was backup command module pilot for Apollo's 16 and 17. He then worked on the Space Shuttle program until his retirement as a Colonel in the Air Force in 1976, the time when many of his trees were being planted.

Sadly, Stuart Roosa passed away in December, 1994. The Moon Trees continue to flourish, a living monument to our first visits to the Moon and a fitting memorial to Stuart Roosa. Believed locations of some Moon Trees are listed below, but no list was ever kept nor any systematic tracking made of the disposition of all the trees. If you know of a Moon Tree, please send a message to dave.williams@nasa.gov.


Image of Moon Tree Plaque at Camp Koch, Indiana Image of Moon Tree Plaque at Goddard

Moon Tree Locations

City and State Location Type of Tree Planting Date
Birmingham,
Alabama
Birmingham Botanical Gardens Sycamore 25 February 1976
Montgomery,
Alabama
State Capitol Loblolly Pine 19 April 1976
Troy,
Alabama
Pioneer Museum of Alabama Loblolly Pine 5 August 1976
Tuscumbia,
Alabama
Ivy Green Loblolly Pine 19 October 1976
University of Arizona, Tucson
Arizona
Kuiper Space Sciences Building 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 1976
Berkeley,
California
Tilden Nature Area 2 Redwoods 26 July 1976
Lockeford,
California
Lockeford Plant Materials Center Redwood 1979
Monterey,
California
Friendly Plaza Redwood 27 July 1976
Sacramento,
California
Capitol Park Redwood 1976
San Luis Obispo,
California
Mission Plaza Redwood 30 July 1976
Gainesville,
Florida
University of Florida Sycamore c. 1977
Keystone Heights,
Florida
Keystone Heights Library Sycamore 1984
Perry,
Florida
Forest Capital State Park Loblolly Pine 29 April 1978
Tallahassee,
Florida
Cascades Park Sycamore  
Tallahassee,
Florida
Doyle Conner Center Loblolly Pine 1976
Athens,
Georgia
Clarke County Planning Dept. Loblolly Pine May 1976
Waycross,
Georgia
Okefenokee RESA Loblolly Pine  
Boise,
Idaho
Lowell Elementary School Loblolly Pine 1977
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 24 July 1976
Elmer,
Louisiana
Palustris Experimental Forest Loblolly Pine April 1976
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
Niles,
Michigan
Fernwood Botanical Gardens Sycamore 23 April 1976
Biloxi,
Mississippi
Private Residence Sycamore 1974-75
Mississippi St. Univ.,
Mississippi
Dorman Hall Sycamore 1975
Waynesboro,
Mississippi
Forestry Commission Nursery Sycamore  
Wiggins,
Mississippi
Camp Iti Kana Sycamore April/May 1974
DeSoto,
Missouri
Walther Park Sycamore  
Monmouth County,
New Jersey
Monmouth County Courthouse Sycamore  
Santa Fe,
New Mexico
State Capitol Building Douglas Fir 1976
Silver City,
New Mexico
Gough Park Sycamore 1976
Asheville,
North Carolina
Botanical Gardens at Asheville Sycamore 19 March 1976
Pisgah National Forest,
North Carolina
Cradle of Forestry Sycamore  
Jefferson County,
Ohio
Friendship Park Sycamore 29 July 1976
University of Oregon, Eugene
Oregon
Erb Memorial Union Douglas Fir 1976
Roseburg,
Oregon
U.S. Veteran's Hospital Douglas Fir 3 May 1976
Oregon State University, Corvallis
Oregon
Peavy Hall Douglas Fir Spring, 1976
Salem,
Oregon
State Capitol Building Douglas Fir 30 April 1976
Salem,
Oregon
Private Residence 2 Douglas Firs 1973
Coudersport,
Pennsylvania
Coudersport Area Recreational Park Sycamore Late 1970's
Dillsburg,
Pennsylvania
Dillsburg Elementary School Sycamore 29 April 1983
Ebensburg,
Pennsylvania
Cambria County Courthouse Sycamore 29 June 1976
Hollidaysburg,
Pennsylvania
Highland Hall Sycamore 5 May 1976
King of Prussia,
Pennsylvania
Lockheed Martin Sycamore 30 June 1976
Newtown/Langhorne,
Pennsylvania
Core Creek Park Sycamore 30 April 1976
Topton,
Pennsylvania
Topton Mini Museum Sycamore 20 April 1976
Knoxville,
Tennessee
University of Tennessee Loblolly Pine April 1976
Sewanee,
Tennessee
University of the South Sycamore April 1976
Westlake,
Texas
Private Residence Sycamore 1978
Draper,
Utah
Lone Peak Conservation Center Sycamore 1976
Doswell,
Virginia
Kings Dominion Amusement Park Sycamore 1976?
Hampton,
Virginia
Booker Elementary School Sycamore 30 April 1976
Loudoun County,
Virginia
Private Land Sweetgum 1978
Olympia,
Washington
State Capitol Building Douglas Fir April 1976
       
Brasilia,
Brazil
IBAMA Institute Sweetgum 14 January 1980
Cambara do Sul,
Brazil
Praça Central São José Redwood 26 September 1982
Rio Grande do Sul,
Brazil
Santa Rosa Redwood 18 August 1981
France? French Rotarians Loblolly Pine?
status unknown
Unknown
       
Auburn University,
Alabama
G.W. Andrews Forestry Sciences Lab Loblolly Pine *,
Sycamore *
22 October 1976
Huntsville,
Alabama
U.S. Space and Rocket Center 5 Sycamores *,
2 Pines *
29 October 1976
Tuskegee,
Alabama
VA Hospital (CAVHCS) Loblolly Pine * 1976
Flagstaff,
Arizona
Flagstaff Jr. High School Douglas Fir * 30 April 1976
Little Rock,
Arkansas
Forestry Commission Headquarters Loblolly Pine * 15 March 1976
Monticello,
Arkansas
University of Arkansas at Monticello Loblolly Pine * 1977?
El Dorado Hills,
California
St. Stephen's Lutheran Church Redwood * 1976
San Dimas,
California
Technology & Development Center Giant Sequoia? 29 March 1977
Cape Canaveral,
Florida
Kennedy Space Center Sycamore * 25 June 1976
Gainesville,
Florida
University of Florida 2 Loblolly Pines * c. 1977
Moscow,
Idaho
University of Idaho Sycamore *  
Des Moines,
Iowa
State Capitol Sycamore ?
status unknown
30 April 1976
New Orleans,
Louisiana
New Orleans River Walk Loblolly Pine * June 1983
New Orleans,
Louisiana
NASA Michoud Assembly Facility Loblolly Pine (2?) * July 1976
North Pembroke,
Massachusetts
Historical Society Sycamore * April 1976
Jackson,
Michigan
  Sycamore * 1976
Lansing,
Michigan
State Capitol Sycamore * 1976
Wyoming,
Michigan
Wyoming Police Station Sycamore * 23 April 1976
Alamogordo,
New Mexico
International Space Hall of Fame Sycamore * 1976
Albuquerque,
New Mexico
Civic Plaza Douglas Fir * 1976
Capitan,
New Mexico
Smokey Bear State Park Sycamore * 15 May 1976
Athens,
Ohio
District 4 Headquarters Sycamore * 20 July 1976
Columbus,
Ohio
City Nursery Sycamore * 1976
Elkton,
Oregon
D.L. Phipps State Forest Nursery Douglas Fir
status unknown
 
Illinois Valley,
Oregon
Siskiyou Smoke Jumpers Base Douglas Fir *  
Portland,
Oregon
World Forestry Center Douglas Fir *  
Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania
Washington Square Sycamore * 6 May 1975
Elizabethton,
Tennessee
Sycamore Shoals State Park Sycamore * April 1976
Tullahoma,
Tennessee
Arnold Air Force Base Loblolly Pine * April 1976
College Station,
Texas
Brazos County Arboretum Sycamore * 21 March 1976
Salt Lake City,
Utah
State Capitol Building Douglas Fir *  
Doswell,
Virginia
Kings Dominion Amusement Park Sycamore* 1976?
Washington,
D.C.
White House Loblolly Pine * 19 January 1977
Princeton,
West Virginia
Forestry Sciences Lab Sycamore* 18 October 1975

* Trees no longer alive


Moon Tree Emblem Moon Tree Emblem Moon Tree Emblem

Roosa letter courtesy Glenn Kovar, Chief, U.S.F.S. Special Projects

Second Generation Moon Trees
 American Heritage Trees - Buy a 2nd Generation Moon Tree Seedling

 Stuart Roosa and the Moon Tree Seeds
 History of the Moon Coastal Redwoods
 History of the Moon Douglas Firs
 History of the Moon Sycamores, Loblolly Pines, and Sweetgums

 Moon Tree Foundation
NASA Obituary - Stuart Roosa - December 1994
Telegram sent to Bicentennial Moon Tree Planting Ceremonies - President Gerald Ford
Apollo 14
Lunar Home Page
NSSDCA Planetary Home Page

Articles about the Moon Trees

Moon Trees: Legacy of Apollo 14 Links Earth and Space - space.com, 7 May 2001
A Moon Tree? - Focus on Forestry, Winter 2001
Moon mysteries - Christian Science Monitor, 18 June 2002
In Search of Moon Trees - Science@NASA, 13 August 2002
NASA seeks public help finding rare 'moon trees' - Lake City Reporter, 21 August 2002
Goddard's Moon Tree - Goddard News, 23 August 2002
Where Have the Moon Trees Gone? - Wired Magazine, 12 September 2002 (Wayback Machine Archive)
Fly Me to the Moon, Then Let Me Grow Among the Firs - Newhouse News, 13 September 2002 (Wayback Machine Archive)
Scientists look for elusive 'moon trees' - CNN, 22 October 2002
Moon Tree Legacy Spreads Across Country - AP, 11 November 2002 (Wayback Machine Archive)
A Race Against Time To Find Apollo 14's Lost Voyagers - NASA News, February 2011
Is There An Apollo 14 Moon Tree Near You? - Universe Today, 4 February 2021
Have You Ever Seen a 'Moon Tree'? - Forbes, 5 February 2021

NASA
Author/Curator:
Dr. David R. Williams, dave.williams@nasa.gov
NSSDCA, Mail Code 690.1
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, MD 20771
+1-301-286-1258


NASA Official: Dr. David R. Williams, david.r.williams@nasa.gov
Last Updated: 27 July 2021, DRW