Oregon State University Moon Tree

Corvallis, Oregon

[Oregon State Univ. Moon Tree] [Oregon State Univ. Tree Plaque] [Oregon State Univ. Tribute Plaque Plaque]

Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga Menziesii) planted in spring, 1976 on the east lawn of Peavy hall on the Oregon State University campus in Corvallis, Oregon. The picture at top left was taken in 2010. The top right image shows the tree planting in 1976, the people in the picture are listed at the bottom of the page. (Despite the "1975" on the image, the seedlings were only sent to Oregon in 1976.) The College of Forestry had a celebration of the tree on 10 October 2012, at which time the plaque was unveiled. The lower image of the tree was taken in 2012. At the bottom is a story about the tree from "Focus on Forestry". A small tribute plaque (below) is also located next to the tree.

[COF Moon Tree celebration]

The seeds for the Douglas firs that were taken on Apollo 14 were collected in Benton County, Oregon, and El Dorado County, California and sent to 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. More detail on the history of the Douglas fir Moon Trees is available.

Tree located at 44 deg 33.854 min N, 123 deg 17.096 min W

[Oregon State Univ. Moon Tree] [Oregon State Univ. Tribute Plaque]

Information and photographs at top left and right, and center COF slide,
courtesy Edward Jensen and O.S.U. College of Forestry
Photographs at top center courtesy Beth Gordon
Photographs at bottom courtesy Erica Botkin


by Gail Wells
Reprinted with permission from "Focus on Forestry", College of Forestry, Oregon State University, Winter 2001

[Focus on Forestry Article] [OSU Moon Tree]

Maybe it's been to the moon, but you'd never know it. This healthy Douglas-fir is one of the moon seedlings planted across the United States in 1976.

Forestry Extension agents are used to fielding odd requests, but this one had Scott Leavengood stumped. A man in Phoenix, Arizona, named Michael Simon had heard there was a "moon tree" growing somewhere on the grounds of the OSU College of Forestry. Could he get cuttings?

Leavengood, an OSU Forest Products Extension agent in Washington County, asked a few questions. No, said Simon, it was not a tree grown on the moon, but a tree planted from seeds that had orbited the moon in 1971 with astronaut Stuart Roosa of the Apollo 14 team. Simon was trying to get his 16-year-old daughter interested in science, and he thought propagating a moon tree would be a good father-daughter project.

Leavengood did some investigating. Stuart Roosa had been a smokejumper in his youth, and he and Forest Service officials arranged the seeds' flight to the moon.

Afterward, the seeds were germinated, and in 1975 and 1976 some 450 seedlings were given to state forestry organizations throughout the country to be planted as part of the nation.s bicentennial celebration.

Leavengood discovered that one of the moon trees, a Douglas-fir seedling, had been planted on the east lawn of Peavy Hall in 1976. Today the tree is a healthy 40-foot-tall specimen, apparently none the worse for its wanderings as a seed. Leavengood took cuttings and cones from the tree and sent them to Simon.

The project did not have the hoped-for effect on Simon's daughter. "She didn't find moon trees exciting at all," he confesses. But Simon went ahead anyway, trying unsuccessfully to get the cuttings to root. Now he intends to plant the seeds after conditioning them in the freezer according to Leavengood's instructions.

Leavengood wishes him luck. "Generating a Douglas-fir from a cutting is a very difficult task, even for a horticultural professional," he says. Sprouting a seed is somewhat easier, but it's still tricky. "I'm hoping he'll keep me posted."

The story of the moon trees, including their present whereabouts, is posted on the NASA web site, http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/lunar/moon_tree.html

Tree planters in upper photo, from left to right:
Jim Stone, officer of OSU's student Forestry Club
Susan Sahnow, officer of OSU's student Forestry Club
George Brown, Head of OSU's Forest Engineering Department
TJ Starker, local forester and civic leader (and a member of OSU's first Forestry graduating class of 1910)
Dick Dilworth, Head of OSU's Forest Management Department
Helmuth Resch, head of OSU's Forest Products Department

 OSU Forest Research Laboratory
 PDF Version of "Focus on Forestry"
 OSU recognizes Moon Tree as living history - Corvallis Gazette-Times, 11 October 2012
 NASA’s “Moon Trees” have roots in an Oregon forest fire - Offbeat Oregon, 11 May 2014

 History of the Moon Tree Douglas Firs
 Moon Tree Home Page

Dr. David R. Williams, dave.williams@nasa.gov
NSSDCA, Mail Code 690.1
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, MD 20771

NASA Official: Dave Williams, david.r.williams@nasa.gov
Last Updated: 9 April 2023, DRW