State Capitol Moon Tree

Santa Fe, New Mexico

[Santa Fe Moon Tree] [Santa Fe Moon Tree Article] [Santa Fe Moon Tree]

A Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) Moon Tree was planted on the state capitol grounds in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on July 22, 1976. The roughly two foot tall seedling was planted in a ceremony (above)featuring New Mexico Governor Jerry Apodaca, his wife Clara Apodaca, Land Commissioner Phil R. Lucero, and State Forester Raymond Gallegos. A bronze plaque was installed identifying it as the Bicentennial Moon Tree.

The plaque has since disappeared, and the exact location of the Moon Tree was thought to be lost, but in August of 2019, the former New Mexico "first lady", Clara Apodaca revisited the site with state officials and a naturalist to find the tree. The tree she identified was in what was described as "a grassy area north of the state capitol", surrounded by other trees and shrubs. It was about 50 - 60 feet tall, and the naturalist confirmed it looked to be about the right age. Apodaca expressed her hope that there would be a rededication ceremony and a new plaque.

The pictures of the tree above were taken in January 2023. The tall tree in the center of the picture on the left is believed to be the Moon Tree.

[Santa Fe Moon Tree Article]

New Mexico apparently received five Moon Trees in 1976, two Douglas firs and three sycamores. A 28-inch Douglas fir seedling was planted April 7 in the Civic Plaza in Albuquerque. The other Douglas fir, of about the same size, was planted on the state capitol grounds on 22 July. A sycamore was planted in Smokey Bear State Park on May 15, 1976. Another sycamore was planted at the International Space Hall of Fame in Alamogordo on October 5. The location of the other sycamore is in Silver City, New Mexico, planted August 15 in Gough Park. The sycamores in Alamogordo and Smokey Bear State Park are known to have died, as has the Douglas fir in Albuquerque. The status of the other two trees in not definitively known. For more information, see the individual tree pages and Moon Trees in New Mexico from the New Mexico State Records Center and Archive.

Images courtesy Carle Pieters.
Clipping at top courtesy Rio Grande Sun (12 Aug. 1976).
Clipping at middle courtesy Las Vegas Optic (29 July 1976).
All used with permission.
Thanks to

New Mexico Officials Believe They've Located a Missing 'Moon Tree' - KNAU, 12 August 2019
1 of the missing 'moon trees' in New Mexico believed found - AP News, 12 August 2019
Moon tree mystery solved? - KOAT 7 News, 9 August 2019

Are New Mexico's moon trees still alive? - KOAT 7 News, 19 July 2019
New Mexico's 'moon trees' planted after Apollo 14 are lost - AP News, 23 July 2019
Moon Trees in New Mexico - New Mexico State Records Center and Archives

Other New Mexico Moon Trees

Alamogordo - International Space Hall of Fame
Albuquerque - Civic Center
Capitan - Smokey Bear Park
Silver City - Gough Park

History of the Douglas fir Moon Trees
Moon Tree Home Page

Dr. David R. Williams,
NSSDCA, Mail Code 690.1
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, MD 20771

NASA Official: Dave Williams,
Last Updated: 31 July 2023, DRW