To The Moon & Back, Now I Know

In 1971, on the Apollo 14 mission to the moon, astronaut Stuart Roosa had about 500 tree seeds with him. He and the seeds experienced 34 orbits around the moon. It was during a college summer break, when Roosa was a “smoke jumper” risking his life and parachuting into an area to fight forests fires. He took these seeds to the lunar orbit for a US Forest Service germination experiment and also as a tribute to “smoke jumpers”.

An American sycamore seedling was planted at the University of Arizona, in Tucson, on Arbor Day, April 30, 1976 in honor of the US Bicentennial. It was the only original moon tree still alive in Arizona with 64 other moon trees at various locations around the world.

A 2015 news reporter questioned whether the sycamore tree would last another 5 years, so it was time for me to find it. Prior to this I had never heard about any “moon trees”. My partner and I bicycled to the campus and did find the tree! 2020 and the tree was still alive which I was happy to see! May it live many more years!

American sycamore tree still alive December 2020 at U of A campus.