The tree planted at the White House by US President Donald Trump and French leader Emmanuel Macron with much ceremony to symbolise the long friendship of the two nations has died.
The oak tree sapling, imported from France’s Belleau Wood forest, was planted just over a year ago, on a state visit to Washington by Mr Macron.
The European Sessile oak sapling came from a site in France where more than 9000 Marines died in one of the US’s bloodiest World War I battles.
“This oak tree … will be a reminder at the White House of these ties that bind us,” Mr Macron wrote on Twitter at the time.
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
It was planted on the South Lawn of the White House on April 23, 2018, but quickly sparked commentary when it disappeared just five days later.
That disappearance was explained in an April 29, 2018, tweet by the French ambassador to the US, Gerard Araud, who said the sapling had been placed in quarantine after its symbolic planting by the two presidents. It would be replanted later, he said.
But a diplomatic source has told Agence France-Presse that the young oak was never replanted and died in quarantine.
Not only that, France’s national newspaper Le Monde reports there are no plans to replace it.
“It’s like a metaphor for a relationship that is not what it was, especially on a personal level,” the newspaper said.
The untimely death of the oak sapling symbolises the downturn in the relationship between Mr Trump and Mr Macron.
Widely hailed for their initial bromance, the two have run into problems in recent months over issues including Iran nuclear policy, addressing climate change, world trade and international security commitments.