First Lady Removes 200-Year-Old Tree From White House

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U.S. First Lady Melania Trump has reportedly decided to uproot the historic Jackson Magnolia tree from the White House lawn. The grandiflora was planted nearly 200 years ago to honor the death of Rachel Jackson, who died before her husband Andrew Jackson's inauguration.

On Dec. 26, journalists obtained documents by the U.S. National Arboretum offering an analysis of the Jackson Magnolia on the White House South Lawn, CNN reports.

The Arboretum analysts deemed the tree a safety hazard, noting that its foundation had grown unsalvageable.

"The overall architecture and structure of the tree is greatly compromised and the tree is completely dependent on the artificial support," the documents stated. "Without the extensive cabling system, the tree would have fallen years ago."

The tree was planted by a grieving President Andrew Jackson after his wife, Rachel, passed away days after his election. The exact year when the Magnolia was placed on the White House lawn has been disputed, with historians placing its appearance between 1829 and 1835, according to the Oak Ridger.

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The Jackson Magnolia became an iconic feature of the White House and was featured on the U.S. $20 bill between 1928 and 1998. Around 1970, the tree began to show signs of decay and developed a vulnerable cavity. The solution at the time was to fill the cavity with concrete, which proved counterproductive. In 1981, the tree began to be supported by a cable system.

The Arboretum report asserted that the Jackson Magnolia's east half was doomed while the west side would share a similar fate in short order.

"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," the analysts wrote. "It is difficult to predict when and how many more will fail."

The report concluded that the Jackson Magnolia's natural lifespan had already elapsed.

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"If this was any ordinary tree, it would have been removed long ago," the analysts continued. "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."

Melania Trump reportedly gave the order for the tree to be removed after considering the Arboretum report. White House groundskeepers had already been growing offshoots of the ailing Jackson Magnolia and are expected to replace the historic fixture with trees sprouted from its seed.

Conservative columnist Erick Erickson took to social media to reflect on the Jackson Magnolia's impending demise.

"This is a kind sad story, but it is time," Erickson tweeted out. "If I recall correctly, people laughed at Jackson for the original planting, telling him it'd never grow there. But it did."

Sources: CNN, Erick Erickson/Twitter, Oak Ridger / Featured Image: DoD News/Flickr / Embedded Images: White House Historical Association/CNN (2)

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