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Oldest Tree on White House Grounds to Be Cut Down

A large portion of a famed magnolia tree, at left, photographed Dec. 26, 2017, and planted on the south grounds of the White House by President Andrew Jackson in 1835 has become too weak to remain standing.

If trees could talk, this one would have a million stories to tell — eavesdropping on the conversations of 39 U.S. presidents, watching over state visits and Easter egg rolls, witnessing joy and sorrow, war and peace, and even surviving being hit by an airplane.

But experts say the huge magnolia tree President Andrew Jackson planted as a seedling in 1835 is sick and a safety hazard. A large portion will have to be cut down.

Hovering over the South Lawn near the second story South Portico, it is the oldest tree on the White House grounds. Its portrait can be seen on the back of the U.S. $20 bill.

The tree has been propped up by cables and steel pole, but arborists say its wood is too delicate to withstand any efforts to hold it up. A bad storm, strong winds, or even gusts from the presidential helicopter could bring it down, with perhaps deadly results.

A White House spokeswoman says first lady Melania Trump has asked that parts of the tree be preserved and possibly re-planted in the same spot.