Washington: The nearly two century-old iconic magnolia tree standing by the South Portico of the White House is scheduled to be cut down later this week. It is the oldest tree on the White House grounds, a witness to Easter egg rolls and state ceremonies, a resignation, a plane crash, all the tumult and triumph of 39 presidencies, the Washington Post reported.
But the tree is badly damaged and decayed, the White House announced on Tuesday. First Lady Melania Trump called for a large portion of it to be removed at the recommendation of specialists from the National Arboretum. "The overall architecture and structure of the tree is greatly compromised and the tree is completely dependent on the artificial support," said the specialists.
"Without the extensive cabling system, the tree would have fallen years ago," they said, adding that its trunk is too delicate for further interventions, CNN reported. President Donald Trump's Communications Director Stephanie Grisham said: "Mrs Trump personally reviewed the reports from the US National Arboretum and spoke at length with her staff about exploring every option before making the decision. "... She 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. She added that the wood from the tree will be preserved.
The magnolia, with its enormous canopy extending beyond the second floor of the White House, was planted by then US President Andrew Jackson to commemorate his wife Rachel. According to CNN, another magnolia, born directly from the original's healthy branches, will soon be planted in its place, for history to live on. (IANS)