An iconic magnolia tree that has prominently appeared in the background of White House events for more than a century took its first blow on Wednesday as workers began to chop its branches down.
First Lady Melania Trump ordered he removal of the Jackson Magnolia, which Andrew Jackson is believed to have planted at the White House in 1828 in honor of his deceased wife, after specialists declared the partially hollow tree a ‘hazard’ in a document detailing decades of damage and decay.
A portion of the tree is still viable but the specialists warned that half of the Jackson Magnolia would eventually suffer the same fate.
‘In addition, the high winds resulting from frequent helicopter landings complicates the future of the limb. It may fail in an unpredictable way,’ the document states.
An iconic magnolia tree that’s prominently appeared in the background of White House events for more than a century took its first blow on Wednesday as workers began to chop its branches down
A portion of the tree remains viable, but the specialists warned that half of the Magnolia would eventually suffer the same fate
The historic tree reaches from the ground floor of the White House past the second-level executive residence
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump, from left, U.S. President Donald Trump, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, and U.S. Second Lady Karen Pence participate with White House staff in a moment of silence for victims of a Las Vegas mass shooting on the South Lawn of the White House on Oct. 2. The Jackson Magnolia is to the left
The historic tree reaches from the ground floor of the White House past the second-level executive residence.
Specialists from the United States National Arboretum assessed the tree, according to documents obtained by CNN.
Having reviewed the specialists’ report, the first lady concurred that the tree had become dangerous, a spokeswoman for Melania said.
She also directed workers to preserve wood from the tree as they chop it down.
‘Mrs. Trump personally reviewed the reports from the United States National Arboretum and spoke at length with her staff about exploring every option before making the decision to remove a portion of the Magnolia tree,’ the first lady’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, told CNN.
‘After reviewing the reports, she 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.’
The tree is being cut down while the Trumps are away for the holidays. Pictured on Tuesday
The First Lady has ordered the removal of the historic Jackson Magnolia, a tree that Andrew Jackson planted at the White House in 1828
Pictured: Gerald Ford golfing in front of the Jackson Magnolia that’s been a fixture of the White House for more than a century
Melania Trump is currently on holiday with her husband, President Donald Trump, in Palm Beach. She was not present on Wednesday when White House workers began to cut the tree down.
The document reviewing the tree’s history and upkeep determined that damage sustained over the last five decades was putting too much of a strain on the Magnolia.
It said in part: ‘The overall architecture and structure of the tree is greatly compromised and the tree is completely dependent on the artificial support.’
‘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,’ the document says.
Former President Andrew Jackson planted the tree in 1828, after his wife Rachel passed away days after the election, historians say
The documents revealed that the tree had damage going back as far as 50 years, when three ‘leaders’, or trunks, emerged from its base creating a mess of tangles. Pictured: An Easter Egg Roll at the White House in 1944
The review revealed that the tree had damage going back as far as 50 years, when three ‘leaders’, or trunks, emerged from its base creating a mess of tangles.
Around 1970, one of the leaders broke off from the main trunk and was removed, but it left the tree vulnerable to decay. The hole was filled with cement, an action that did irreversible damage to the tree.
In 1981 the cement was removed and instead replaced with the current wire and pole system. However, National Arboretum experts agreed that the support is no longer sustainable.
White House groundskeepers were prepared for the downfall of the tree. Healthy offshoots of the tree have been growing at an undisclosed greenhouse and are now between eight and ten feet tall.
White House groundskeepers were prepared for the downfall of the tree. Healthy offshoots of the tree have been growing at greenhouses and are now between eight and ten feet tall. Pictured: The Ford family
The official Jackson Magnolia has appeared in the background for numerous historical events, and was featured on the $20 bill from 1928 to 1998
Another Jackson Magnolia, grown from an offshoot of the original, will be planted in its place, CNN reported.
Andrew Jackson is believed to have planted the tree in 1828 in memory of his wife Rachel, who passed away days after his grueling election.
Jackson is said to have insisted on planting a seed from Rachel’s favorite magnolia tree from the couple’s farm in Tennessee.
The Jackson Magnolia has appeared in the background of numerous historical events at the White House and was featured on the $20 bill from 1928 to 1998.
Laura Bush commissioned a set of White House china inspired by the tree called ‘The Magnolia Residence China.’
In 2016 Michelle Obama gave a seedling from the tree to the people of Cuba. The tree was planted during her and her husband’s visit there.