Later this week the exterior of the White House will see a major change with the removal of the iconic Jackson Magnolia, which has been sitting on the south lawn since the 1800s. The tree, which was featured on the $20 bill until 1998, is the oldest on the White House grounds extending past the front of the windows of the first floor State Dining Room and up to the the second floor executive residence. Speaking of which — the order apparently came from none other than First Lady Melania Trump herself, on account of the tree apparently being too damaged to remain.
The tree initially began decaying in the ’70s, and has since been artificially supported, first with concrete and then with a pole and cable system.
According to the specialists at the United States National Arboretum, via documents obtained by CNN:
“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 tree was planted shortly after Andrew Jackson took office in 1828 for his wife Rachel, who passed away suddenly just after he was elected, following a particularly nasty presidential campaign. Historians believe that the sprout for the tree came from Rachel’s favorite magnolia tree from their farm in Hermitage, Tennessee.
While this is undoubtedly sad news, on the plus side White House ground keepers have been preparing for this inevitability, and have been tending to offshoots of the tree in a nearby greenhouse, which now stand eight to 10 feet tall and will eventually replace the Jackson Magnolia.