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Melania Trump Orders Removal of Damaged, 200-Year-Old Tree From White House Lawn

A sign marks the iconic Jackson Magnolia tree on the White House lawn in this April 21, 2012 photograph.
A sign marks the iconic Jackson Magnolia tree on the White House lawn in this April 21, 2012 photograph. Flickr/angela n (https://www.flickr.com/photos/aon/)

The south facade of the White House will be undergoing a historic change this week when the iconic Jackson Magnolia, which has been in place since shortly after Andrew Jackson’s inauguration in 1829 will be coming down. First Lady Melania Trump made the decision to remove the historic magnolia, which extends from the ground floor of the White house past the second-level executive residence, following expert reports that it was too damaged to stay in place, reports CNN.

Specialists at the United States National Arboretum concluded that “the overall architecture and structure of the tree is greatly compromised and the tree is completely dependent on the artificial support.” If it wasn’t for the “extensive cabling system” that props up the tree, it “would have fallen years ago,” according to the document cited by CNN.

It wasn’t an easy decision, according to Trump’s staff. “Mrs. Trump personally reviewed the reports from the United States National Arboretum and spoke at length with her staff about exploring every option before making the decision to remove a portion of the Magnolia tree,” Trump’s communications director, Stephanie Grisham, said. “After reviewing the reports, she trusted that every effort had been made to preserve the historic tree and was concerned about the safety of visitors and members of the press who are often standing right in front of the tree during Marine One lifts.”

Melania Trump has reportedly requested that the wood from the tree, which is the oldest on the White House grounds, be preserved. The White house groundkeepers have apparently been preparing for this day and have been growing several offshoots of the tree that are “now somewhere around eight to 10 feet tall,” reports CNN. The plan is that one of those offshoots will eventually be planted in its place so another Jackson Magnolia that was taken directly from the original can grow in the same spot.

Update, Dec. 27, 2017: The Associated Press reported “a large portion of the tree” has now been removed. It’s unclear if the remainder of the tree will eventually be cut down.

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