WEATHER WEDNESDAY: Birmingham’s Moon Tree

Weather

There is one tree at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens that has been to the moon and back.

Jason Kirby, an archivist that works in the library at the gardens, gave CBS 42 Storm Team Meteorologist a tour to Birmingham’s very own Moon Tree.

It was grown from a seed that orbited in a command module during the Apollo 14 mission. Apollo 14 was the third time that we landed on the moon. Stuart Roosa was one of the astronauts on board. He was a former US Forest Service smokejumper and brought hundreds of tree seeds aboard in a canister. The goal was to test the effects of zero gravity on the seeds. They were planted across the United States. 

“Now Birmingham’s is special. It was the first out of all the moon trees to be planted. And we’re the only one that has a living moon Sycamore from the Apollo 14.”

Jason Kirby, Birmingham Botanical Gardens

And it’s impressive that the trees made it. Roosa’s canister burst open during the decontamination process, so he didn’t know if the trees would survive. 

“The tree was planted in 1976 during the bicentennial that the nation was going through. Which also coincidentally was the 105th anniversary of the founding of the city of Birmingham. So we had two things to celebrate,” Kirby said. 

Now the tree is 47 years old and there are possible big plans for the future of the moon tree.

“One of our former directors of education, Henry Hughes, is a tree specialist and he’s actually going to do some cuttings and see if he can get a clone. In three years, our tree will be 50 and we would like to do a big celebration when our tree turns 50 and plant one of its babies,” Kirby said. 

If you would like to visit the moon tree, walk straight through the main entrance and it is next to the Dunn Formal Rose Garden.

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