Last April, at the peak of their since-fizzled bromance, Emmanuel Macron gave a present to Donald Trump: an oak tree which was ceremoniously planted in the manicured lawns of the White House by both leaders. The photo of the two presidents digging away dirt promptly went viral and symbolized the friendship shown by the two leaders.
It was a symbolic gesture: the tree came from Belleau Wood, north-east of Paris, the location of a pivotal battle in which 1,811 Americans died in June 1918 during the first world war.
Since then, Trump's relations with Europe have soured and his friendship with Macron has since frayed – over issues ranging from Iran to trade – and the tree did not survive. Which is ironic because during Macron's April 2018 state visit he tweeted that the sapling would be “a reminder … of these ties that bind us” and the “tenacity of the friendship” of the two nations. From little acorns, great transatlantic ties would take root and grow, was the message.
Well, maybe not.
Once the cameras had departed, the tree was uprooted and disappeared in quarantine to avoid the spread of non-native diseases and invasive insects.
“It is a quarantine which is mandatory for any living organism imported into the US,” Gerard Araud, then the French ambassador to America, wrote on Twitter, adding that it would be replanted later. Images showed only a yellow patch of grass in the spot on the White House south lawn where the tree had been planted.
But it was never replanted: the tree died during its quarantine. Its death was confirmed by a diplomatic source to Agence France-Presse. Just like the Macron-Trump love-in, it is no more.