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Here's the real reason the tree that Trump and Macron planted together disappeared

U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron plant a tree on the grounds of the White House on April 23 in Washington,D.C. Melania Trump and Brigitte Macron watch. The tree, a gift from the French president, comes from Belleau Woods, near the Marne River in France. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

There’s a good reason why the tree that President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron planted disappeared, and it has to do with protecting American trees.

Wait…what tree?

On April 23, Trump and Macron planted a tree together on the White House lawn. The tree was a gift from the people of France. It initially grew at the site of World War I’s Battle of Belleau Wood, in which nearly 2,000 American soldiers were killed.

However, by April 27, the tree had disappeared and been replaced by a discolored patch of grass.

Speculation quickly followed. The Associated Press tweeted that a "mystery was brewing at the White House" over the missing sapling. ABC News called the disappearance “something of a mystery,” and noted that the White House did not return a request for comment at the time.

The BBC cited a French gardening website that hypothesized the tree may have been moved somewhere else to better survive “the drought” of summer, and that it “may be back in October.”

What happened?

The reason the tree was removed actually ended up being pretty routine. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection guidelines, the tree needed to be quarantined before it could be permanently planted. This is a standard practice for any imports of non-native species to the United States, but it is especially important in this instance. Some trees in northern France have been affected by a species of moth that has not yet made it to the United States.

The French ambassador to the United States also clarified that the roots to the tree had initially been wrapped in plastic, so that it would not contaminate the ground during the ceremonial planting.

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