- The Moon Trees
Apollo 14 launched in the late afternoon of January 31, 1971 on what was to be our third trip to the Moon.
Five days later Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell walked on the Moon while Stuart Roosa, a former U.S. Forest Service smoke jumper, orbited above in the command module. Packed in small containers in Roosa's personal kit were hundreds of tree seeds. Known as the "Moon Trees", the resulting seedlings were planted throughout the United States.
Seeds were chosen from five different types of trees: Loblolly Pine, Sycamore, Sweetgum, Redwood, and Douglas Fir. The seeds were classified and sorted, and control seeds were kept on Earth for later comparison. Roosa carried about 400 - 500 seeds in his personal kit which stayed with him as he orbited the Moon in the command module "Kitty Hawk" in February, 1971. Unfortunately, the seed canisters burst open during the decontamination procedures after their return to Earth, and the seeds got mixed together and were presumed to be no longer viable.
Surprisingly, nearly all the seeds later germinated successfully, and some 420 to 450 seedlings were grown after a few years. A Loblolly Pine was planted at the White House, and trees were planted in Brazil, Switzerland, and presented to the Emperor of Japan, among others. Trees have also been planted in Washington Square in Philadelphia, at Valley Forge, and at various universities and NASA centers.
One of the Moon Trees, a Coast Redwood, can be found less than an hour from Los Gatos in Monterey, California. Located in Friendly Plaza, it was planted in 1976. Here is a photo, with yours truly standing at the base.
There are 8 Moon Trees in California and several elsewhere. Maybe near you! Here is a list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_tree