These trees have a fascinating history, from outer space to being planted in the Hoosier State.

WGBF-FM logo
Get our free mobile app
Canva
Canva
loading...

What Are Moon Trees?

The history of Moon Trees is pretty fascinating, as their story starts in the 1970s in outer space. According to NASA, the Moon Trees began as a part of celebrating the nation's bicentennial in 1976. In 1971 Apollo 14 launched and along with the astronauts aboard, there were also hundreds of tree seeds.

Apollo 14 launched in the late afternoon of January 31, 1971 on what was to be our third trip to the lunar surface. 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, part of a joint NASA/USFS project. Upon return to Earth, the seeds were germinated by the Forest Service. Known as the "Moon Trees", the resulting seedlings were planted throughout the United States (often as part of the nation's bicentennial in 1976) and the world. They stand as a tribute to astronaut Roosa and the Apollo program.

 

Indiana's Moon Tree in Lincoln State Park (YouTube)
Indiana's Moon Tree in Lincoln State Park (YouTube)
loading...

How The Moon Tree Seeds Almost Got Ruined in Space

There were a total of five different types of seeds chosen for this particular mission:

  • loblolly pine
  • sycamore
  • sweetgum
  • redwood
  • Douglas fir.
YouTube
YouTube
loading...

The seeds were sorted and sealed in bags to go into space, however, according to NASA the bags burst open and they weren't sure the seeds would still be viable.

 Unfortunately, the seed bags burst open during the decontamination procedures after their return to Earth, and the seeds were scattered about the chamber and exposed to vacuum, and it was thought they might not be viable.

But the good news is many of these tree seeds ended up still being viable, and dozens that were planted across the United States are still standing to this day.  Three of those trees can still be found in Indiana.

YouTube
YouTube
loading...

Indiana's Moon Trees

According to the Moon Tree locations chart the three in Indiana are located in Cannelton, Lincoln City, and Indianapolis.   All three of these trees were planted in 1976 and are all Sycamore trees.  There were two Sweet Gums planted in 1976 in Tell City, but unfortunately, those trees did not survive. If you want to learn more about Moon Trees and find their exact locations, NASA has more, here. 

LOOK: Best counties to retire to in Indiana

Stacker compiled a list of the best counties to retire in Indiana using data from Niche.

Gallery Credit: Stacker