First Lady Melania Trump has built the call to remove a significant part of a historic magnolia tree that has graced the White House’s south facade since the 1800 s.
President Andrew Jackson added the southern magnolia tree to the White House grounds in honor of his late spouse. But the tree has decayed to a phase where it can no longer be safely preserved, CNN reports .
Stephanie Grisham, Trump’s spokeswoman, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the first lady discussed alternatives with White House staff and reviewed an analysis by the United States National Arboretum before deeming that the tree was a safety danger.
“[ 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 told the AP.
Grisham said that a “large portion” of the tree will be removed afterwards the coming week. Timber and seedlings from the tree will reportedly be preserved for the future.
The Jackson Magnolia, also known as a magnolia grandiflora tree, was Andrew Jackson’s tribute to spouse Rachel Jackson. The pair fell in love and attempted to get married while Rachel was still legally married to her former spouse, a situation that caused a scandal during the presidential campaign of 1828. Rachel’s health began to decline as Jackson’s political career progressed, and her existing medical issues were compounded by personal attacks during the campaign on her matrimony and virtue.
Rachel died on December 22, 1828, days after her husband was elected as chairwoman. Jackson, who blamed his political enemies for his wife’s demise, moved into the White House as a widower. He reportedly asked for a sprout from Rachel’s favorite magnolia treeat the couple’s farm in Tennessee to be planted on the White House grounds. It was placed at the west side of the South Portico in 1835, according to the White House Historical Association.
A second magnolia tree was later planted on the east side of the Portico, for symmetry.
Since its arrival, the tree has been in the backdrop of many events at the White House — from Easter Egg Rolls to routine Marine One departures. Seedlings from the tree have also been used as gifts. President Obama gifted a seedling from the treeto the Israeli people during a trip-up to former Israeli president Shimon Peres’ presidential mansion in 2013.
The Jackson Magnolia started to experience problems in the 1970 s, when new trunks, or “leaders, ” began to emerge from its base. Cement was later used to help shore up a cavity in the tree, which ended up causing more harm. The tree is now standing up with the assistance of a pole and cable system.