As NASA celebrates Apollo 50th anniversary, 12 ‘Moon Sycamore’ trees planted at Kennedy Space Center

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Grown from one of 500 seeds that accompanied the Apollo 14 astronauts into the cosmos in 1971, Mississippi State’s “Moon Sycamore” tree stands on the west side of the Junction on the Starkville campus. 

STARKVILLE, Miss.—While NASA’s Kennedy Space Center celebrates the 50th anniversary of its Apollo program this summer, Mississippi State is recognizing its famed “Moon Sycamore” tree grown from one of 500 seeds that accompanied the Apollo 14 astronauts into the cosmos in 1971.

Located on the west side of the Junction, the celebrated sycamore was planted at MSU after its seed was used in scientific experiments conducted by astronaut Stuart Roosa aboard the command and service module Kitty Hawk.


In fact, from the seeds of MSU’s tree, many new Moon Sycamore trees have been grown and 12 of them were planted this spring at Kennedy Space Center as NASA began its Apollo anniversary celebration. These new trees are grown by the Tennessee-based nonprofit American Heritage Trees, an educational and environmental organization that formed a partnership with MSU and its campus landscape department in 2014 to collect seeds from the university’s sycamore, a collaboration that continues to this day.

“We have many interesting trees on our Campus Tree Trail, but the Moon Sycamore’s historical significance makes it one of my favorites,” said Bart Prather, MSU’s associate director of campus landscape. “To know that it originated from a seed that went to the moon and back and that it now has offspring planted at the Kennedy Space Center is pretty neat. It gives Mississippi State a unique way to be a part of the Apollo anniversary that NASA is celebrating.”

Tom Hunter, who founded American Heritage Trees with his wife Phyllis in 2013, said the Apollo program was a “great achievement in American history.”

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Learn more and purchase a Sycamore moon tree, click here.