The American Sycamore in the picture is the famous “moon tree” in the Tennessee Landmark & Historic Tree Registry. It was a seed on the Apollo 14 moon flight with Alan Shephard, Ed Mitchell, and Stuart Roosa. Each astronaut was allowed to take some personal items aboard, including Commander Shephard’s historic golf club. Command Module Pilot Roosa, at one time a smoke jumper with the United States Forest Service, took aboard seeds from redwoods, Douglas Firs, sycamores, loblolly pines, and sweetgums to research the effects of weightlessness on the growth of tree species. The seeds circled the moon 34 times in the Kitty Hawk capsule. Upon his return to Earth, Roosa gave the tree seeds to the U.S. Forest Service, where they were planted in nurseries in Mississippi and California. In 1976 the seedlings were distributed in celebration of the Bicentennial to many states. The State of Tennessee received four of these Apollo 14 seedlings, three of which are still alive today.
The pictured American Sycamore was planted at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee after a ceremony in 1976. NASA still maintains a website documenting all of the “moon trees” and which of the 23 states they were planted in and if they are still alive.
This particular sycamore is:
Diameter: 22 inches
Height: 75 feet
Average Crown Spread: 60 feet
Nomination by the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council