Indianapolis Moon Tree – Indianapolis, Indiana - Atlas Obscura

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Indianapolis Moon Tree

A 30-year-old Sycamore tree grown from a seed taken to the moon and back. 


The front lawn arboretum of the Indiana Statehouse counts several commemorative and interesting trees among its display, and it’s up to visitors to decide just how special they actually are.

However, one tree is sure to stand out as undeniably unique – a tall Sycamore tree planted more than 30 years ago, from a seed taken to the moon and back during the Apollo 14 lunar mission.

One of only 50 or so trees left alive and well-maintained from an original set of 500 seeds taken to orbit the moon by astronaut Stuart A. Roosa, this “Moon Tree” is actually just one of four that can be found in Indiana. The others are in Lincoln City, Tell City and Cannelton.

It was planted on April 9, 1976, and a commemorative plaque in the ground before it serves as a subtle memorial. Scientists continue to study the growth and development of these post-orbital trees and have yet to find any discrepancies between them and their earthly cousins.

For those hoping to find something truly strange, perhaps the most interesting thing of all is just how normal these trees turned out to be, and how few people seem to be aware of their extra-terrestrial origins. In fact a number of the moon trees have been accidentally cut down by gardeners who hadn’t been told that were special.

Know Before You Go

From I-465, take the Washington Street exit toward downtown Indianapolis. Across from the Eitlejorg Museum, look for signs and the telltale green roof of the Indiana Statehouse. The Moon tree is in the front lawn. The tree is on the east side of the building and the marker is no longer there, (It was moved, along with other plaques, to the southern end of the garden). Use photo references to find the right tree. The source link is helpful for this.

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