Moon Tree Douglas Firs
Moon Tree project IFG summary letter and Olympia, Washington Moon Douglas Fir
The Moon Tree Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) seeds were supposedly collected
from two locations, Benton County, Oregon, and El Dorado County, California
(Ostrum letter 5/20/1972).
However, there seems to be some uncertainty as to where the seeds came from
(Johnson letter 12/19/1972).
These were received by the U.S. Forest Service
Institute of Forest Genetics (IFG)
western station in Placerville, California.
Unfortunately the seeds were
mixed after the flight, so it is impossible to tell for any of the
Douglas firs which lot they came from
(IFG letter 9/22/1976).
Leroy Johnson letters of 19 December 1972 and 25 November 1974
These seeds, along with seeds from coastal redwoods, sycamore, loblolly pine,
and sweetgum trees were sent to Dr. Charles Walkinshaw at
NASA and carried by Stuart Roosa on the Apollo 14 flight.
Dr. Walkinshaw was with the U.S. Department of Agriculture
on special assignment with NASA managing the Lunar Receiving Lab at Johnson
Space Center Houston.
After their return to Earth, many of the seeds were grown in cellulose
thimbles in Houston under controlled conditions, supervised by Dr. Walkinshaw
(20 May 1971 letter (
from Carl Ostrum, Director of Timber Management Research).
This letter also lists the sources of all the seeds used for the Moon Trees.
Note that in the May 20 letter, Ostrum requested
that the seeds be moved promptly to the IFG stations in
Gulfport, Mississippi and Placerville, California because
they did not have the necessary facilities to care for
the seeds in Houston.
Carl Ostrum letter, Apollo XIV Tree Seeds, 20 May 1971
For some reason this was not done at that
time. Apparently the majority of these seedlings failed to survive
(10 July 1972 letter from Ron Dinus, project leader).
The remaining coast
redwood and Douglas fir seeds were then sent to the IFG western station in
Placerville, California; and the sycamore, loblolly pine, and sweetgum seeds
sent to the IFG southern station in Gulfport, Mississippi in
July of 1972.
Ron Dinus letter, 10 July 1972 and Summary of handling "Moon Tree" seeds
According to the
records from the IFG in Placerville,
summary of handling of Moon Tree seeds,
64 Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga Menziesii) seeds
were received on 25 July 1972 and logged in as Lot NI.
They were stratified on 31 July 1972,
germination began on 9 September, 10 days after the 30 day
stratification was completed (
IFG Moon Tree notes, 9/20/1976).
Of the 64 seeds, 53 germinated
successfully. This is considered to be a normal germination rate for
They were transferred into containers in October, 1972, at which time they
ranged from 3 to 8 cm in height
(Johnson letter, 12/19/1972).
They were kept in a cold greenhouse in winter.
As of 25 November 1974, 37 of the 53 seedlings were still
alive, at an average height of 40.5 cm
(Johnson letter, 11/25/1974).
The Douglas fir seedlings were also numbered from 1 to 37 at this time.
The 16 seedlings had died from
damping-off fungi, again, this is considered a normal mortality rate.
One more of the seedlings died by 5 September 1975, at which time the
remaining 36 seedlings were measured, had their roots pruned, and were
transplanted to large containers. 68 root cuttings were started from
these, of which 35 survived. They were logged at IFG Placerville as Lot NJ,
but there we have no record of what became of the root cuttings after that.
1976 allotment list
from Leroy Johnson (LCJ) is dated 5/19/76 and has handwritten notes dated "as of 9/20/76",
and gives the allotments, dates, and tree numbers for the redwoods and Douglas firs.
Summary of disposition of "Moon Trees" and IFG allotment list, May 19, 1976
Seedlings were shipped to various states (
summary of disposition of Moon Tree seeds, undated),
mainly between 9 February and
13 May 1976: Arizona (2 seedlings), Idaho (6), Montana (4), Nevada (2),
New Mexico (2), North Dakota (4), Oregon (8), Utah (2), and Washington
(6). Two were also allotted to Maine and one to Minnesota, but there is
of these being collected. Two of the eight Oregon trees were
held until 1977. The majority of these trees are not accounted for.
IFG Placerville notes on the coastal redwoods and Douglas firs
Dinus, R., letter, Apollo XIV Tree Seed, 10 July 1972
Institute of Forest Genetics, allotment list, 19 May 1976
Institute of Forest Genetics, notes, subject - Moon Trees, pages 1
2, 20 September 1976
Johnson, L., letter, Apollo XIV seed, 19 December 1972
Johnson, L., letter, Update, Apollo XIV tree seedlings, 25 November 1974
Johnson, letter, Moon Trees Project, 22 September 1976
Ostrum, C., letter, Apollo XIV Tree Seeds, pages 1
2, 20 May 1971
Moon Tree disposition summary, undated
Moon Tree handling summary, undated
Letters and information courtesy Erica Botkin and the
Institute of Forest Genetics, Placerville, California.
Institute of Forest Genetics, Placerville, California
Institute of Forest Genetics, Gulfport, Mississippi
Moon Tree Home Page
Dr. David R. Williams, email@example.com
NSSDCA, Mail Code 690.1
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, MD 20771
NASA Official: Dr. David R. Williams, firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Updated: 6 April 2021, DRW