Emmanuel Macron

White House mystery solved: tree planted by Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron was dug up and put in quarantine

White House photographers noticed the tree was gone days after it had been planted. Mystery ensued.

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 April, 2018, 1:42am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 April, 2018, 10:29pm

The photograph was seen around the world: US President Donald Trump and France’s Emmanuel Macron, gilded spades in hand, shovelling dirt over a young sapling.

A week ago, at the beginning of Macron’s visit to Washington, the French president joined his American counterpart to throw handfuls of soil on the roots of a young oak tree as the their respective first ladies looked on

It was a symbolic gesture: the tree came from a northern French forest where 2,000 US Marines died during the first world war.

But a few days later, the plant was nowhere to be seen.

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Photographs taken by Yuri Gripas of Reuters on Saturday showed only a yellow patch of grass in the spot on the White House grounds where the tree was planted.

Amid fervent speculation, France on Sunday came through with an explanation: the tree, now not just a plant but a symbol of US-French relations, had been placed in quarantine.

The problem: parasites on the tree could spread to others on the White House property.

“It is a quarantine which is mandatory for any living organism imported into the US,” Gerard Araud, French ambassador to America, wrote on Twitter.

“It will be replanted afterwards.”

When a follower fired back that the caution seemed a bit late - given that the tree had already been planted - the diplomat went on to confirm that the roots had been enclosed in plastic.

Agence France-Presse, Reuters