Historic White House Tree Getting The Axe After First Lady's Careful Decision

One of the largest and oldest trees on the White House grounds will soon be no more. The tree, which was planted back in 1835, is slated to be removed. First Lady Melania Trump made the call, and now the White House landscaping crew is tasked with the job of hacking away large portions of the historic magnolia tree.

The tree, which is known as the Jackson Magnolia, graces the west side of the South Portico. The magnolia grandiflora was ordered by President Andrew Jackson as a tribute to his wife, Rachel Jackson. The two were completely in love, but their relationship caused a huge scandal because Jackson tried to marry her while she was still legally married to her estranged first husband.

Sadly, Rachel passed away in 1828, just before Jackson began his first term as President. He had the tree planted in her honor in 1835, and it's been there ever since. Later, another magnolia tree was planted on the east side to make the grounds look more symmetrical.

The Jackson Magnolia has been spotted in photos of the White House for nearly 200 years now. It's been standing tall behind various presidents and visitors taking photos outside the grounds.

It's been featured as the backdrop during Easter Egg Rolls. Seedlings from the tree have been considered special gifts; President Barack Obama gave one to Israel when he went abroad to visit the country.

Taking down most of the tree was not a decision taken lightly. According to her spokesperson, Stephanie Grisham, she was advised by the groundskeeping crew that the tree had become unsafe.

“[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,” she said to the Associated Press.

The tree has actually been having problems for decades now. Back in the 1970's, new trunks began emerging.

To contain the tree, the groundskeepers cemented it in, which ended up causing more problems for the foliage. At this point it's being held up by poles and rope.

Any other tree with the Jackson Magnolia's problems would have been ripped out by the roots long ago, but because of the tree's historic significance, every effort has been made to preserve it. Mrs. Trump was advised that drastic pruning was in order, but even that might not save the old tree.

Of course, the decision is not sitting well with fans of the tree; or with Trump haters. The hashtag #treegate is already circulating on social media.

"Trump seems to destroy everything in his path. Poor tree," said one person.

"Obviously, that tree knows too much and had to be removed," read one snarky comment.

"How about consultation with an Arborist and a Botanist...instead of being so eager to chop the Historic Magnolia...???" read another.

Many pointed out that a lot of consulting was done before the decision to nix the tree had been made. Melania found an unlikely supporter in Chelsea Clinton.

"Thank you to all the Chief Horticulturists and everyone from the National Park Service who have taken care of the beautiful grounds of the @WhiteHouse over the years. Thank you @FLOTUS for preserving part of a tree I & so many have treasured," the former first daughter tweeted.

Conservatives saw the headlines as an example of how the media tends to spin any story about the Trumps as negative. "I guess the #FakeNews media HAD to make up a story to smear our First Lady; her approval numbers are too high and she's beautiful," wrote one person.

According to the White House, original seedlings from the tree will be saved and will be available in the future, and one may be planted one day on the White House lawn.

Source: HuffPost, Newsmax
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, YouTube

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