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The White House’s famous magnolia tree to be cut down

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    The Jackson magnolia stands, in bloom, giving way to the Rose Garden of the White House on 10 April 2014Image copyright AFP
    Image caption The Jackson magnolia has sat on the White House lawn for almost two centuries

    A historic tree at the White House is scheduled to be cut down and removed.

    The “Jackson” magnolia has been in place since 1828, when it was planted by then-President Andrew Jackson as a tribute to his recently deceased wife.

    According to a White House spokesperson, experts say the tree is beyond repair and poses a safety hazard.

    Between 1928 and 1988, the iconic tree featured on the $20 note.

    A spokeswoman said that First Lady Melania Trump has requested that its seedlings be maintained so that a new tree can be planted in the same area.

    She said Mrs Trump had taken the decision to remove the current tree as it posed a threat to “the safety of visitors and members of the press who are often standing right in front” of it when the presidential helicopter takes off.

    Image copyright AFP
    Image caption The tree can often be been seen when the presidential helicopter, Marine One, takes off from the White House

    The so-called Jackson magnolia originally came from a cutting from Mrs Rachel Jackson’s favourite magnolia tree on the couple’s Tennessee farm.

    Its first problems began in the early 1970s when a section of its base was displaced and its exposed cavity was cemented. This was standard practice for the era, but some said it damaged the tree irrevocably.

    In 1981, the cement was removed and replaced with a large pole and cable system to hold it up.

    Although at first sight the tree appears normal, a report from the United States National Arboretum, quoted by CNN, said “the tree is greatly compromised” and “completely dependent on the artificial support”.

    The magnolia tree’s life has spanned 39 presidencies, as well as the American Civil War and two World Wars.

    It became a backdrop for many presidential addresses and gatherings.

    Image copyright AFP
    Image caption The tree can be seen again as President George Bush urged his campaign workers to “stay out of the sleaze business” in 1992
    Image copyright AFP
    Image caption President Bill Clinton made his 1996 speech on pension reform with the magnolia tree in the background

    Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of ex-President Bill Clinton, tweeted her thanks to those who have looked after it over the years and to Mrs Trump for the re-planting plan.

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