Forest Service Office

Tell City, Indiana

[Tell City Moon Trees] [Tell City Moon Trees] [Tell City Moon Trees]

These two sweetgums (Liquidambar styraciflua) were growing at the U.S. Forest Service Ranger District Office in Tell City, Indiana. They were planted sometime in 1976. The picture in the center shows the trees in April, 2003 - they're very small, only about 20 feet high or so, because they were growing right underneath a pair of larger trees at the time and because this is close to the northern extent of the sweetgum range in the midwest. The picture on the left shows the trees in 2019, and on the right in April, 2022, having grown significantly over the intervening 19 years.

In late 2023, after showing signs of declining health for a few years (they were close to the expected end of life for this species), they had to be cut down. Before they were cut down, twigs were taken and grafted onto roots of other trees. Some were successful and these saplings (scions) will be replanted, see the pictures below. "High stumps" were also left in the hope that the original trees will sprout and produce healthier seedlings in the same spot.

[Tell City Moon Tree graft] [Tell City Moon Tree graft]
Grafted tree in its second growing season and seedlings produced from twigs from the graft.

The original sweetgum seeds that were taken to the Moon were collected in Bladen County, North Carolina.

The trees were at 37° 56.652' N, 86° 45.622' W.

[Tell City Sign]

Image at left courtesy of Beth Gordon and Kuiper.
Image at center credit Dave Williams.
Images at right and bottom credit Luke Davidson.
Images in middle of page courtesy Marion Mason.
Special thanks to Christine McCready and Tom Thake.

 'Moon trees' attracting visitors to southern Indiana decades after a trip to space (video) - WDRB News, July 12, 2021

 History of the Sweetgum 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: 23 May 2024, DRW