Seeds in Space

In 1971, 500 seeds went into space. They flew on the Apollo 14 rocket. They circled the moon and then came back to Earth.

The forest service wanted to see how being in space would change the seeds. They chose five different types of seeds for the experiment. The seeds were all from trees: loblolly, sycamore, sweetgum, redwood, and Douglas fir.

After their trip to space, the seeds were sent to the government. The forest service planted them. 420 of the 500 seeds grew to be trees. They were called moon trees.

Foresters planted the moon trees next to Earth trees. These were trees grown from seeds that had never been to space. The foresters compared the trees to see if there were any differences between them. There found that the trees were exactly the same.

The moon trees were planted all over the United States. Some were even planted in other countries like Brazil and Switzerland. After a while, people forgot about the trees. No one knew the story of the seeds. No one knew where the trees were planted.

In 1996 a third grade class found a moon tree outside of their school. It had a small sign that explained what it was. The class wrote to the government and told them about the tree.

The government asked people to help find more of the trees. They made a list of all the ones they could find. The list is growing as more trees are found. Maybe you will find a moon tree one day too!