French President Emmanuel Macron planted a tree at the White House – a symbol of the friendship between the two nations – that has since disappeared, BBC News is reporting. What’s more, no one in Washington seems to know what happened to it.
By all accounts, Macron’s three-day state visit to the White House was an unqualified success. Trump and Macron got along swimmingly, as did first ladies Brigitte Macron and Melania Trump. Progress was made on important issues.
As is customary for a state visit, there was also some symbolism. In this case, a tree, specifically a European sessile oak sapling, which came from the site of the Battle of Belleau Wood. Some 2,000 American soldiers were killed and nearly 8,000 were wounded in the World War I battle near Paris.
In a tweet, Macron explained that the gift from the French people would be a constant reminder of the deep bonds between the U.S. and France.
100 years ago, American soldiers fought in France, in Belleau to defend our freedom. This oak tree (my gift to @realDonaldTrump) will be a reminder at the White House of these ties that bind us.
It was a beautiful act of remembrance that capped off a state visit. And now it’s gone.
White House tree: Emmanuel Macron’s sapling disappears https://t.co/ZOmxRAIIwg
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) April 29, 2018
Just four days after the tree was planted, a Reuters photographer happened to be on duty at the White House and noticed that, where the tree once stood, there was instead a patch of bare earth.
So what happened to the tree? No one in Washington seems to know. However, a few people in Paris are offering up some possible answers.
One possibility, according to France Info, is that the tree has been put into a greenhouse for safe keeping until after the summer. Specifically, this particular type of tree is best planted in autumn, when the temperatures and rainfall are more agreeable.
— RT (@RT_com) April 29, 2018
Another possibility, also involving a greenhouse, comes via an unnamed French government official, by way of Huffington Post‘s French edition. That official, speaking on condition of anonymity, says the tree is “under quarantine.” That’s because U.S. law requires seeds, plants, or soil imported into the country to be quarantined for a period of time. And for what it’s worth, that official says the tree is “doing well.”
As of this writing, it’s unclear when, or even if, Macron’s tree will be returned to its place at the White House.