Washington Square Moon Tree
Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) planted 6 May 1975 in Washington Square, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
This was the first official Moon Tree planted to celebrate the nation's bicentennial, Stuart Roosa took part.
Sadly, the tree died circa 2008. The first picture above show the Moon Tree when it was healthy, circa 2000.
The top right picture shows the tree in 2011, shortly before it was removed.
The very bottom images show
the stump and area after the tree was cut down.
A clone grown from a cutting of the tree was planted in this spot in
a planting ceremony on 24 September
2011 (National Public Lands Day). For more information, see the
CBS News story.
The wood from the old
tree was planned to be used to make signs and plaques in Washington Square Park.
Unfortunately, the clone
died in 2019 and was removed.
Atlas Obscura story and picture of the new Moon Tree
Located at Walnut Street & Independence Mall West.
39 deg 56.853 min N, 75 deg 9.090 min W
Moon Tree planting announcement (courtesy Jane Alling, McLean Library)
Pictures from the ceremony on May 6, 1975
Clockwise from top left: Stuart Roosa, Forest Service Chief John McGuire,
and Director of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Ernesta Ballard;
George Vitas, U.S. Forest Service, John McGuire, and Stuart Roosa;
Master of Ceremonies Glenn Kovar, U.S.F.S. Chief of Special Projects;
and George Vitas standing next to the newly planted Moon Sycamore.
Press release for the 6 May 1975 Moon Tree planting.
Newspaper clippings of the original planting.
The first image shows Stuart Roosa and Woodsie the Owl at the Moon Tree planting on May 6, 1975.
The caption under the second image reads,
"Cub Scout David Burnett, 8, of West Chester, studies the plaque marking
the site of the first "moon tree" (background) planted during the
national Bicentennial. In ceremonies yesterday at Washington Square,
astronaut Stuart Roosa, who carried the seed for this and other trees on
a trip to the moon, assisted in planting the tree to mark the
contributions forests have made to our way of life. During the
Bicentennial year, each state will have its own "moon tree" planted in
(Reprinted by permission from The Philadelphia Daily News, May 7, 1975)
A first-hand description of the Philadelphia Moon Tree Ceremony written by Howard Burnett
Moon Tree in 2011 after it was cut down.
First two images courtesy of Christopher Palmer
Third image at top of page courtesy of Alex Lauderdale
Next tree image courtesy of Lucy Black
Ceremony images courtesy Lisa Perez and "Peeling back the bark"
News clippings courtesy of David Burnett and the Philadelphia Daily News
Images at bottom courtesy Erica Botkin
Houston, We Have Moon Trees
Description of the Philadelphia Moon Tree Ceremony
History of Washington Square
Moon Tree Home Page
Dr. David R. Williams, email@example.com
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NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, MD 20771
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Last Updated: 13 May 2021, DRW