Tracking down Moon Trees

Biloxi Sun-HeraldFebruary 28, 2011 

Very few living things on this Earth have been to the moon, except a handful of aging astronauts.

Also on that short list are trees grown from seeds a Gulfport astronaut took with him to the moon. A number of these seeds have grown quietly here on the Coast for almost 40 years. There’s a group of seven loblolly pines at the Harrison Experimental Forest, and two sycamores -- one at a school in Gulfport and one at a home in Woolmarket.

“It’s a miracle this one’s still living,” said Gary Moore of Woolmarket, “between hurricanes and little boys on go-carts.”

There has been a renewed interest in finding these space travelers, with the anniversary this month of the Apollo 14 flight that carried them to the moon 40 years ago. On that flight, astronaut Stuart Roosa had carried the seeds of 450 loblolly pine, sycamore, redwood, Douglas fir and sweetgum trees.

On Apollo 14’s return, NASA and the U.S. Forest Service germinated the seeds. In the early 1970s, the seedlings were distributed around the U.S. and in other countries as “moon trees.”

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