French President emmanuel macron visited the White House in 2018. It was his first official state visit to the US and he had brought a gift for President Donald Trump. It was an oak sapling symbolizing the strength of the bond between the allies and the two leaders planted it jointly on the South Lawn of the White House. Their wives looked on but the sapling is dead.

It was in quarantine as per procedure but did not survive. The two leaders met during the D-Day Commemoration events in Normandy and their relationship appeared to be cordial. However, there are hiccups and the good feeling is probably in troubled waters because of differences on a number of issues like Climate change and the Iran nuclear deal.

CNN interprets the death of the tree as symbolic of the fractured relationship between the two leaders. Macron had criticized Trump for his methods to approach problems. In the course of a speech in the United Nations General Assembly in 2018, the French president opened up on his point of view.

About the oak tree

The sapling of the oak tree came from the Belleau Wood in Northern France. It was here in 1918 that many US Marines lost their lives in the three-week battle of World War One.

During the ceremonial planting of the sapling in the South Lawn of the White House, Macron acknowledged the sacrifice of the Americans.

CNN adds that after the ceremony was over, the sapling was removed and an official agency took over.

The agency belonged to the USDA. It seems such quarantine was necessary for any imported tree, and the period could extend for up to two years. This was the normal procedure and the staff worked with their French counterparts to ensure smooth importation of the tree. Gerard Araud, the French ambassador to the United States, confirmed that during quarantine, the roots of the sapling were kept enclosed in a special plastic coating.

The reason was to ensure there was no contamination with the local soil.

Emmanuel Macron will send another sapling

According to the Guardian, the French president is unfazed at the loss of the tree he had gifted to US president Donald Trump last year. Emmanuel Macron has downplayed the issue and said he would send the American leader a new tree. He made the comments on the sidelines of an International Labor Organization meeting in Geneva. His words were, “Do not see symbols where there are none, the symbol was to plant it together.”

Incidentally, the planting of the oak sapling on the grounds of the White House was to celebrate the special relationship between the United States and France. However, subsequent to the state visit of Macron to the US in April 2018, disagreements cropped up on some issues related to Donald Trump’s approach to trade, climate change and a nuclear deal with Iran.