April 30 (UPI) — An oak tree given to the White House by French President Emmanuel Macron during last week’s state visit has gone into “quarantine,” officials said.
Macron and President Donald Trump planted the tree — taken from a World War I battle site — on the South Lawn. By the end of last week, however, it vanished.
French Ambassador to the United States Gérard Araud tweeted Sunday the tree needed to be quarantined to meet U.S. agricultural laws.
“It is in quarantine which is mandatory for any living organism imported to the U.S. It will be replanted afterwards,” he wrote.
The tree’s roots were “enclosed in a plastic protection” and “remained carefully isolated,” Araud added.
“They’re probably looking to see if it has any kinds of problems,” William Fountain, a professor of arboriculture at the University of Kentucky, told NBC News. “They’re looking for bacterial or fungal infections or cankers.”
“If they came out and got this plant material, they were just doing their due diligence. They’re following the rules of the USDA.”
Macron said the tree is a reminder of the ties that bind France and the United States.
The 4.5-foot tall sapling comes from Belleau Wood in northern France, a historic site of United States engagement in World War I.
The White House said more than 9,000 U.S. Marines died in the Battle of Belleau Wood in 1918 — and said the forest is a memorial site and important symbol of the sacrifice made to ensure peace and stability in Europe.
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. pic.twitter.com/AUdVncaKRN- Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) April 24, 2018