By John McDevitt

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A special sycamore tree planted in Philadelphia’s Washington Square Park in 1976 after taking a trip to the moon as a seedling is no longer alive. The “moon tree” will be replaced later this month by a clone.

More than 50 tree seedlings of various varieties went up to the moon on the Apollo 14 in 1971 and later planted across the United States. A sycamore was put in Philadelphia’s Washington Square Park for the bicentennial.

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“And it’s been growing well until a few years ago we actually noticed a few years ago that it was deteriorating a little bit and perhaps its natural life span had ended.” Jane Cowley,  Public Affairs Officer at Independence National Historical Park, says the tree was vegetatively propagated a few years ago.

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“We cloned it. We worked with Morris Arboretum who took several cuttings from the tree and rooted them and those cuttings are now large enough that we are going to select one, and we are going to plant it.”

In a ceremony on September 24th (which is National Public Lands Day) the old  tree will be taken down and replaced with the new tree.  The tree that went to outer space will later be recycled to be made into wooden features or plaques on the park’s grounds.

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Reported by John McDevitt, KYW Newsradio