More history on the “Moon Seeds

Submitted by Florence Peterson


I did remember the seedlings were brought to the Jackson's from an unnamed Forest Service nursery. The gathering for the planting was a highlight event and well attended.  As usual, Audrey Jackson feed us all a gourmet meal!  Anyway, in order to try and find out further information, I contacted Ted Schlapfer, Regional Forester, Region 6, at the time. I couldn't have hit a better jackpot and I think the following information is important enough to be noted, documented and remembered. We can't let the history of the Forest Service just go away with the sands of time.

With the help of Ted it is important for all to know, and I quote from him. "I remember vividly the planting of the moon trees at the Jackson's.  Audrey Jackson Simmons has a "scroll" on her wall at her home documenting the day's activities in 1978.  Now, let me give you a bit of history.  The seeds that generated those trees came from a stainless steel capsule containing seeds from most of the NW species and carried to the moon by Stu Rusa, the 14th command module pilot."

"Stu jumped from Cave Junction, Oregon on one of my (Ted's) fires on the Salmon River district of the (Oregon). Stu was on the platform there with Al Ulman, then chair of the ways and means committee (U.S. House of Representatives), along with John McGuire, our Forest Service Chief at that time.  I (Ted) have pictures of this dedication."

"When the capsule was opened on return to earth, the seeds were planted in a F.S. nursery.  When the trees became transplantable, several were distributed.  Two went to Seth Jackson, retired National Forest figure.  Dick Worthington, then Regional Forester, spoke at the planting ceremony.  I (Ted) helped plant one (seedling) at the Cave Junction Jump Base in Oregon.  One went to Weyerhaeuser for planting on their corporate property."

Club Members, take time and dust away the cobwebs—I’m sure some of you remember additional and important history stories that need to be documented.  Forest Service History is getting away from us fast.  JUST DO IT!

Submitted by Florence J. Petersen, former secretary, treasurer and newsletter editor, Forest Service Thirty Year Club (Region 6 and PNW Station), with "sincere" thanks to Ted Schlapfer.


And from Tom Nygren, in an email to Vern Clapp 1/10/03

Quite a coincidence, you sending this article on the Jackson’s and the “moon trees.”

A couple of weeks ago I went up to see Audrey Jackson Simmons, to re-certify her tree farm.  She showed e the “scroll” on the wall, signed by Dick Worthington.  She also told me that unfortunately, the trees had died since then.

A minor note, but I believe the astronaut’s last name was Roosa, not RusaTom Nygren

And from “Stub” Stubblefield, also in an email to Vern Clapp 1/10/03 regarding the “moon trees”

That was an interesting story from Florence about the “moon trees”

I happen to have attended the moon tree planting at Cave Junction Smoke Jumper Base that RF Ted mc’d.  I drove up from my District Ranger job at Somes Bar, Ukonom RD, Klamath NF.  That was the first time I met Ted and remained friends with him to this day.  Another friend of mine, the smallest Marine ever to be allowed I the Corps, Allen Owen, or “Mouse” as he was called, was also in attendance.  He was a smokejumper there at the base and later was killed in a recreational jump at an air show in Alaska.  Mouse, a Missouri Forestry student, first worked for the FS on my TSI Crew on the Sequoia NF in ’60.  Horseshoe Mdw. Camp, Humelake RDTed Stubblefield

And from Charlie Newlon, 1/11/03

Hi Florence:


I remember the moon seeds.  I shared an office in the WO with Glenn Kovar and he and FS geneticist Sam Kunkle had handled many of the arrangements with astronaut Roosa to make it possible for the seeds to go to the moon and back.  I saw the stainless steel seed capsule or an exact companion of it.   


A few years later I was able to arrange to donate a resulting seedling to the SAF HQ in Bethesda, MD.  Unfortunately, I later learned that the earthling who had the contract to mow the SAF lawn, a short time after the seedling had been planted, had successfully mowed the lawn seedling and all. I think this one was a yellow-poplar.


When I tried to get a replacement from the Hoosier NF, who was overseeing the growing of the moon seedlings, I was told all had been distributed. 


It would be interesting to know the whereabouts and condition of the other seedlings.  Saplings?


An interesting spin-off of the moon trip to be seen in Washington D.C. is a tiny rock gathered from the moon surface.  It is incorporated in the center of a beautiful stained glass window in the south wall of the National Cathedral.


Please say Hi to Chuck,

Happy New Year

And still more from Florence Peterson 1/11/03

Hi Vern,

I do believe that I stimulated some interest about the seeds that went to the Moon!

Thanks Vern, for printing my story and stimulating the resultant replies to date.  BUT, the report on the death of the
Jackson trees makes me sad. This further proves that we readily wait too long to keep in touch.  I'm sure there is much additional historical information to be reported, either in written stories, or verbally to someone who will pass it along.

My questions are: (1) How many other seedlings (trees) from the moon seeds are still living? (2) Where are they located? (3) Who is responsible for them now?

All the replies to date are great! (I even got a long E-mail from friend Charlie Newlon in
Pennsylvania).  I'm so glad to see how many of you young fellows keep your eyes upon your computer and your minds constructively active.  Keep up the GOOD work, and thanks again!

FJP (Petersen)

An after thought. There is a local T.V. commentator named Ray Summers (sp) who may be interested in doing a story on trees from seeds that went to the moon.  Chuck and I enjoy his stories from time to time. (Either channel. 6 or 8?).

Florence Petersen