Last Monday during the French president and first lady's visit in D.C., the White House's South Lawn got a new living addition. But now, people are noticing that the tree Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron planted is suddenly not in the same place anymore. Photos of the two presidents planting the tree together were unexpected enough — but the fact that the little oak sapling has disappeared makes things even stranger. Who knows, maybe there's a mystery afoot.
UPDATE: An official in President Macron's office told the AP that there's no mystery as to what happened to the tree; it was just quarantined. All plants that are brought into the country for planting are subject to quarantine by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. The French official said that Macron was aware of the requirement but that Trump insisted on the symbolic planting. The quarantine is meant to prevent the spread of insects or disease from other countries.
EARLIER: Your first thought might be that the sapling was stolen. Considering the White House lawn is heavily secured from the public, though, it's unlikely. The reason why you don't see the tree anymore could actually be a lot more boring. Chances are, it was simply moved to a more appropriate or fitting spot on the grounds. Now, just a lighter patch of grass is left neatly in its place. Photos taken by Yuri Gripas of Reuters were some of the first to prove the tree is definitely not there anymore, Newsweek reported.
Still, people are determined to figure out its new whereabouts. As the Associated Press so aptly confirmed in a tweet on Sunday, "A mystery is brewing." The White House, so far, has not offered an explanation to the public. One way or another, hopefully that tree's thriving wherever it is.
Backing up, though, you might be wondering how the tree ended up there in the first place. As it turns out, the tree was actually a gift from French President Macron. It started as a seedling where the first WWI battle with U.S. Marines happened in June 1918 northeast of Paris, according to The Guardian. Nearly 2,000 Americans died during that battle. Macron posted a tweet that explains the meaning behind the gift:
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.
Though you can't argue the sapling wasn't a thoughtful gift, some people were quick to point out it could be an attempt to troll the U.S. president's stance on how the world should address climate change. Sure, it might look like Macron and Trump get along, but that doesn't mean they agree with each other on everything — not by a long shot.
Macron has been particularly committed to the Paris Climate Agreement, whereas Trump announced on June 1, 2017 that he's withdrawing the United States from it. “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” he told his audience, The New York Times reported. In response, Macron pleaded, "Make our planet great again" as a play on Trump's "Make America great again."
Nearly a year later, it's clear that Macron is still trying to get the United States back onboard with the international agreement to get greenhouse gas levels under control and combat global warming. Before a joint-session of Congress just days after he and Trump planted the tree together, Macron said, "I’m sure one day the United States will come back and join the Paris agreement,” the New York Post reported. “We are killing our planet. Let’s face it, there is no ‘planet B.'" And back in January at the World Economic Forum, Macron joked, "Obviously and fortunately, you didn’t invite anybody skeptical with global warming this year,” The Hill reported. Clearly, he was referring to Trump.
But that aside, anyone who's wondering where in the world that tree went will have to wait until the White House puts an end to the mystery once and for all.