White House to remove portion of famed Magnolia tree planted by Andrew Jackson

PHOTO: A large portion of a famed Magnolia tree, at left, planted on the south grounds of the White House by President Andrew Jackson in 1835 has become too weak to remain standing. This image made from the Ellipse, Dec. 26, 2017.PlayAndrew Harnik/AP Photo
WATCH White House to remove portion of famed Magnolia tree planted by Andrew Jackson

A large "portion" of a famed magnolia tree planted on the south grounds of the White House by President Andrew Jackson will be removed because it is weak and poses a safety risk, the White House said Tuesday.

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Removal of the over 180-year-old tree is planned for this week while President Donald Trump and his family are at their Mar-a-Lago club in Florida for the holidays.

Jackson added the magnolia to the White House grounds in 1835, according to the White House Historical Association. It stands on the west side of the South Portico, opposite a second magnolia that was subsequently planted for symmetry.

Stephanie Grisham, the communications director for Melania Trump, said the decision was made by the first lady.

"Mrs. Trump personally reviewed the reports from the United States National Arboretum and spoke at length with her staff about exploring every option before making the decision to remove a portion of the Magnolia tree," Grisham said in a statement Tuesday. "After reviewing the reports, she trusted that every effort had been made to preserve the historic tree, and was concerned about the safety of visitors and members of the press who are often standing right in front of the tree during Marine One lifts."

"She has requested that the wood from the tree be preserved and seedlings be readily available if there is an opportunity to plant a new Magnolia tree in the same area," the statement concluded.

The Jackson magnolia previously made headlines in 1994 when a pilot from Maryland flew a stolen, small plane onto the White House grounds, hitting the tree.

PHOTO: A uniformed Secret Service agent stands guard over the wreckage of a single-engine plane, which rests against the South Portico near the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, D.C., Sept. 12, 1994.J.Scott Applewhite/AP Photo, FILE
A uniformed Secret Service agent stands guard over the wreckage of a single-engine plane, which rests against the South Portico near the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, D.C., Sept. 12, 1994.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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