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The “moon trees,” whose seeds circled the moon 34 times in Apollo 14 astronaut Stuart Roosa’s pocket, were welcomed back to Earth with great fanfare in 1971. One was planted in Washington Square in Philadelphia as part of the 1975 bicentennial celebrations. Another took root at the White House. Several found homes at state capitals and space-related sites around the country. Then-president Gerald Ford called the trees “living symbol[s] of our spectacular human and scientific achievements.” And then, mysteriously, everyone seemed to forget about them.
“The careful records weren’t kept, or if they were kept they weren’t maintained,” Williams said. Williams, whose job includes archiving data from the Apollo missions, hadn’t even heard of the moon trees until a third grade teacher e-mailed him in 1996 to ask about a tree at the Camp Koch Girl Scout Camp in Cannelton, Indiana.
Williams has made it his mission to find them. For the past 15 years, he has kept a record on the web of every known tree’s location. When he started in 1996, he only knew where 22 trees were found. Now, that number has climbed to 80.
But the climb is slow. Mostly, Williams heard of new trees when a hiker or a park visitor found one and e-mailed him about it. The e-mails are ever fewer and farther between, he says.
Demand outstripped supply. Stan Krugman created second-generation saplings, the offspring of a Moon Tree and an earthly specimen, but still requests kept on coming, from abroad as well as home.
Moon Tree plaque at Camp Koch (Nasa pic)
The 'rediscovery' of Moon Trees began at a Girl Scout camp in 1997
"They went all over Europe - France, Germany, Spain - we know Douglas fir, sweetgum and redwood do very well in Europe. The British Isles got half a dozen."