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Speculation abounded over the weekend after it was observed that a tree gifted by French President Emmanual Macron, and ceremoniously planted on the White House South Lawn by both presidents as a symbol of friendship just days before, had been removed and replaced with just a patch of grass.
The French ambassador to the U.S. Gérard Araud stepped in to quell speculation on Twitter, explaining that the tree has only been removed temporarily for a period of quarantine in keeping with a mandatory practice of imported plants.
It is in quarantine which is mandatory for any living organism imported to the US. It will be replanted afterwards. https://t.co/XyJRKTgPWW— Gérard Araud (@GerardAraud) April 29, 2018
Araud further noted on Twitter that the tree, during its symbolic planting by the presidents last week, remained carefully enclosed in plastic protection to ensure that there was no potential contamination prior to the tree’s mandatory quarantine.
A White House official said the move was necessary “to ensure the tree’s long-term survival” and said it will be will be replanted “as soon as possible. The tree is currently being held at a “facility,” the official said.
The tree, estimated to be five to 10 years old, is a European Sessile Oak originating from Belleau Wood, the site in France of a historic battle during the First World War where over 9,000 U.S. Marines died in battle in June 1918, according to the White House.