Lions Club, Borough, County To Dedicate Local ‘Moon Tree’

Local tree grown from seed that traveled to the moon

Potter County Today

moontree4Members of the Coudersport Area Lions Club have agreed to partner with Coudersport Borough and the Potter County Board of Commissioners for a dedication ceremony that will bring long-overdue attention to the “moon tree” at Coudersport Area Recreation Park. Grown from a seed that flew to the moon almost 40 years ago, the tree was among dozens reported as missing by NASA until a local resident happened across NASA’s plea for information. NASA welcomed the submission of background material and photographs. The agency has been trying to track down these unique trees for more than six years.

The Potter County moon tree, a sycamore, is alive and well inside a circle of fenceposts at CARP. On Jan. 31, 1971, when Apollo 14 blasted off to the moon, it contained a canister full of tree seeds as part of an experiment to determine if being in space would cause species to grow differently. These seeds were later germinated, analyzed, and given out to dozens of communities in 1976 during the country’s bicentennial celebration.

NASA’s Dr. David Williams is now inventorying and studying the “moon trees.” Potter County’s moon tree was teetering on the brink of death when it was resuscitated by Carol Patterson, wife of then judge Perry Patterson, who operated a tree nursery near Colesburg. Under her care, the seedling took root and was eventually healthy enough to be transplanted. With little fanfare, it was placed at CARP, where it has remained virtually unnoticed for more than three decades. Few who pass by it are aware of its significance. Potter County’s sycamore stands about 35 feet tall, a stone’s throw from the Allegheny River near the park caretaker’s mobile home.

Lions Club members are hoping to bring a NASA representative to Coudersport in April 2011 for an Arbor Day dedication of the moon tree, including the unveiling of a marker and possible involvement by the Pa. Bureau of Forestry and local school students. Details will be announced.

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