Andrew Jackson magnolia dying at age of around 180 years

An enormous magnolia tree, said to have been planted on the White House grounds by President Andrew Jackson in honor of his wife, has become so damaged and decayed that it will be taken down, according to CNN.

Specialists at the United States National Arboretum were brought in by the White House to assess the Magnolia grandiflora, as it is specifically termed. According to documents obtained exclusively by CNN, the tree must be removed, and quickly, despite efforts to preserve it over several decades. The documents read 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 decision to remove the tree was ultimately made by first lady Melania Trump after she assessed all of the professional information and accompanying historical documents.

…(Trump Communications Director Stephanie) Grisham added Trump has requested that the wood from the tree be preserved. The tree is scheduled to be taken down later this week.

…However disappointing the removal of the Jackson Magnolia, the silver lining of its demise is that White House groundskeepers were prepared. For several months, at an undisclosed greenhouse-like location nearby, healthy offshoots of the tree have been growing, tended to with care and now somewhere around eight to 10 feet tall. CNN has learned the plan is that another Jackson Magnolia, born directly from the original, will soon be planted in its place, for history to live on.

Further, from History.com:

For nearly 200 years, the Jackson Magnolia has been photobombing pictures of the White House’s south lawn. You can see the famous tree in CBS’s coverage of Richard Nixon leaving the office in 1974, pictures from numerous White House Easter Egg Rolls, as well as this photo of Woodrow Wilson’s sheep grazing on the south lawn around 1918.

…The Jackson Magnolia gets its name from Andrew Jackson, the president who planted it in 1829, during his first year in office. Magnolias were supposedly the favorite tree of his late wife, Rachel, who died just after he won the 1828 election. In honor of her, he chose a Magnolia grandiflora seedling (or little plant) from their Tennessee farm to bring to the White House.

Since then, the Jackson Magnolia has become a recognizable background figure in presidential events and photo shoots. When the U.S. Treasury inexplicably replaced Grover Cleveland with Jackson on the $20 bill in 1928, the Treasury even added an image of the magnolia to the back of the bill, where it remained until 1998.

The Jackson Magnolia is so iconic that in 2013, Barack Obama delivered a seedling from the tree to Israel as “a symbol of strength, perseverance and dignity,” according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He also presented a Jackson Magnolia seedling to Cuba in 2015, the year that the U.S. restored diplomatic relations with the island nation. In addition, Michelle Obama donated one of the tree’s seedlings to the Department of Agriculture’s community garden during her time as first lady.

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