The Mystery Of The Missing French Oak Sapling Solved

An oak sapling brought to the United States by French President Macron went missing over the weekend. The reason for its disappearance has been answered.

One highlight of the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to the White House last week came on his first day in town when Macron, President Trump, and their wives participated in the planting of an oak tree sapling that Macron had brought with him as a gift. The sapling had a symbolic value in that it was taken from the forest at the site of the June 1918 Battle of Belleau Wood, a World War One battle in which some 2,000 U.S. Marines died. Several days ago, though, reporters noticed that the sapling had gone missing:

WASHINGTON — A mystery is brewing at the White House about what happened to the oak tree President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron planted there last week.

The sapling was a gift from Macron on the occasion of his state visit.

News photographers snapped away Monday when Trump and Macron shoveled dirt onto the tree during a ceremonial planting on the South Lawn. By the end of the week, the tree was gone from the lawn. A pale patch of grass was left in its place.

The White House hasn’t offered an explanation.

The oak sprouted at a World War I battle site that became part of U.S. Marine Corps legend.

Requests for comment from the White House over the weekend went unanswered, but the French offered one explanation, as reported by Reuters:

French President Emmanuel Macron celebrated the special relationship between the United States and France during his state visit to Washington last week by planting a tree with President Donald Trump on the grounds of the White House.

Now the oak sapling is gone – at least temporarily.

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

In fact, the tree, from Belleau Wood in France where almost 2,000 American soldiers died in a World War One battle, had been dug up not long after it was planted. It was put in quarantine, according to U.S. and French officials. The problem: Parasites on the tree could spread to others on the White House property.

“It was actually a special favor from Trump to France to be able to plant the tree the day of the president’s visit,” an official from Macron’s office said.

It’s also been speculated by some horticulturists quoted in other reports that the tree may not be replanted until the late summer or fall so as to allow the sapling time to develop a stronger root system in order to withstand the heat and dryness that generally characterizes a Washington summer. Either explanation makes sense, of course, but one wonders why the White House didn’t make this clear from the start, or why it didn’t have a response ready when the sapling, which was planted in a fairly open and obvious area on the White House lawn seemingly disappeared overnight. Also puzzling is why the White House didn’t announce in advance that the planting last week was a purely symbolic event. If nothing else, this is another demonstration of how the White House Communications Office doesn’t seem to be on top of the game.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Politicians, Quick Takes, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Personally I think the trump admin doesn’t want to talk about it because ICE is holding it at a detention center for illegal aliens pending a deportation hearing.

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  2. KM says:

    Either explanation makes sense, of course, but one wonders why the White House didn’t make this clear from the start, or why it didn’t have a response ready when the sapling, which was planted in a fairly open and obvious area on the White House lawn seemingly disappeared overnight.

    Most likely because nobody bothered to find out if this was going to be an issue and they wanted a photo op. Come Doug, you really expected basic competency out of this Administration? I’d be shocked if any of them understood the concept that you can’t just plant anything anywhere without issue – that’s for the gardener to think about!

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  3. @KM:

    they wanted a photo op.

    Oh I have no doubt about that. Of course, they could have accomplished that with a short press appearance where Macron presented Trump with the (potted) sapling and it was explained that the tree would be planted at a later date after it had cleared quarantine and when the planting season was ideal.

    But Trump probably wanted the big ceremonial planting with his “buddy” Emmanuel.

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  4. Bob@Youngstown says:

    Quarantine = Immigration hearing

    2
  5. Kathy says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    What if it was President Macron who insisted on it? after all, he might have wanted to show off to the French press how committed he is to engage in activities with his butt-ugly foster child.

    But chances are the French press would shrug and go back to the vital business of making coffee 🙂

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  6. James Pearce says:

    Also possible is that they didn’t discover the parasites until after the tree was planted. The White House gardener, told the next day, inspected the tree, desperately hoping the press office hadn’t messed up the sprinkler system, and offered his dire prognosis. “I would have never okayed this,” he says. Yeah, but you don’t work at the press office, do ya?

  7. JKB says:

    “If nothing else, this is another demonstration of how the White House Communications Office doesn’t seem to be on top of the game.”

    Or, given the news media, it is always fun to let them twist in the wind until they hang themselves with their TDS.

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  8. TM01 says:

    ” If nothing else, this is another demonstration of how the White House Communications Office doesn’t seem to be on top of the game.”

    Or it’s just yet another example of the media blowing everything out of proportion because OMGTRUMP!!!

  9. gVOR08 says:

    If nothing else, this is another demonstration of how the White House Communications Office doesn’t seem to be on top of the game.

    But don’t say anything “mean” about Sarah Huckabee Sanders or the supposedly liberal MSM will come after you.

  10. Kyril says:

    Wondered why it was allowed inside the US without first being inspected for non indigenous hitchhiking organisms on the tree before being planted. Was it truly a gift or a Trojan horse?

  11. Andy says:

    Jesus, what a stupid story. That a news cycle was wasted on this nonsense just shows how far the DC media circus has fallen.

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  12. DrDaveT says:

    Also puzzling is why the White House didn’t announce in advance that the planting last week was a purely symbolic event.

    Because, as we all know, every other purely symbolic political event is clearly labeled.

    Seriously?