Speculation abounded as to what happened to the commemorative tree planted by President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron at the White House last week. The tree, a sapling from the Belleau Wood battlefield where 2,000 U.S. Marines died in the First World War, suddenly disappeared from sight with rumor spreading that it had been stolen.
But, as Macron’s office explained Sunday to Reuters, it wasn’t thieves, environmental protesters or the Hillary resistance: parasites were to blame for the tree’s removal. The tree could have infected others in the vicinity and created a real breakout.
“It was actually a special favor from Trump to France to be able to plant the tree the day of the president’s visit,” Macron’s spokesperson told Reuters.
“Since then, it has returned to quarantine and will soon be replanted in the White House gardens,” the official said, adding, “Don’t worry, the tree is doing very well.”
After entering the First World War in 1917, U.S. forces were instrumental in beating the Germans back on the Western Front in 1918 and liberating France.
Tree planting ceremonies have long become a staple of state visits, with U.S. presidents, whether they are hosting foreign leaders or being hosted by them. Trump and Macron planted the French oak last Monday on the White House lawn.