27, December 2017
US First Lady Melania Trump has ordered the removal of an iconic tree that former President Andrew Jackson planted in 1828 in honor of his late wife.
Melania, the wife of incumbent US President Donald Trump, ordered on Tuesday that the 200-year-old Jackson Magnolia tree be cut down later this week, citing a safety hazard after reviewing historical documents and a relevant report made by specialists.
Some experts said the tree located on the west side of the White House had decayed to a point where it could no longer be safely preserved.
“The overall architecture and structure of the tree is greatly compromised and the tree is completely dependent on the artificial support,” read documents obtained by the CNN.
“Without the extensive cabling system, the tree would have fallen years ago. Presently, and very concerning, the cabling system is failing on the east trunk, as a cable has pulled through the very thin layer of wood that remains. It is difficult to predict when and how many more will fail,” they noted. “We understand this is a historic tree, and all measures have been used to save it to this point in time. While we cannot comment on the need to preserve the tree as long as it stands, we believe eventually, the tree will fail.”
Stephanie Grisham, Trump’s spokeswoman, said in an interview with the Associated Press that Melania had discussed options with White House staff and reviewed an analysis by the US National Arboretum before deeming that the tree was a safety risk.
“After reviewing the reports, [Melania Trump] 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,” Grisham said.
The spokeswoman said a “large portion” of the tree will be removed, and that the wood and seedlings from the tree will be preserved for the future.
Another Jackson Magnolia is expected to be planted in its place.
The Jackson Magnolia is the oldest tree on the White House grounds and has appeared in the background for numerous historical events, also featuring on the $20 bill from 1928 to 1998.
The tree was the former president’s tribute to his wife, Rachel Jackson, who died days after the election.