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#Chopped!: So, Why IS Melania Having the Famed “Jackson Magnolia” at The White House Cut Down?


The White House South Lawn, 1878

For once the hashtag #TrumpRuinsEverything doesn’t directly apply. This time, Melania is to blame…

The White House lawn, as frozen as it is this time of year, will get a big change this week: the historic Jackson Magnolia, from the 1800s, is scheduled to be cut down.

Specialists at the U.S. National Arboretum were brought in by the White House to assess the Magnolia. According to documents obtained exclusively by CNN, the tree must be removed, and quickly, despite efforts to preserve it over several decades. It reads 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was ultimately made by first lady Melania Trump after she assessed all of the professional information and accompanying historical documents.

The enormous magnolia, one of three on the west side of the White House is the oldest tree on the White House grounds. It extends from the ground floor, up past the front of the windows of the State Dining Room on the first floor and beyond the second-level executive residence. The tree has had a long and storied life, yet has now been deemed too damaged and decayed to remain in place.“

The Jackson Magnolia has been in the background for many historic events, from state arrival ceremonies and Easter Egg Rolls, to thousands of photo ops, social and athletic activities.

Some of the highlights:

• From 1928 to 1998, the tree was featured prominently on the back of the $20 bill.

• In 1994, a single-engine plane crashed onto the South Lawn of the White House, sending debris from the wreckage into the Jackson Magnolia, cutting off one of its larger branches.

Laura Bush commissioned a set of White House china inspired by the tree, called “The Magnolia Residence China,” painted with magnolia leaves and blossoms.

• First Lady Michelle Obama in 2009 took a seedling from the magnolia to the United States Department of Agriculture so that it could grow at the USDA’s community garden.

• In 2016, President Obama also clipped a seedling as a gift to the people of Cuba; it was planted during the Obamas’ visit there. Various other dignitaries and first ladies have gifted or replanted seedlings from the tree throughout its history.

In person, while the tree and its trunks appear quite normal from the front side, from the back, the massive hulk of the tree is virtually hollow, with wood chipping away, in places crumbling to the touch.

There is silver lining to this trees demise though. 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 reports that the plan is that another Jackson Magnolia, born directly from the original, will soon be planted in its place, for history to live on.

The Ford family poses on the South Lawn, with the Jackson Magnolia visible on the left.

(via CNN)

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