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White House says historic magnolia tree has been cut back

A large portion of a famed Magnolia tree, at left, photographed from the Ellipse in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017 and planted on the south grounds of the White House by President Andrew Jackson in 1835 has become too weak to remain standing.(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

A large portion of a famed Magnolia tree, at left, photographed from the Ellipse in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017 and planted on the south grounds of the White House by President Andrew Jackson in 1835 has become too weak to remain standing.(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

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Removal of a portion of the iconic magnolia tree is planned for this week while President Donald Trump and his family are away for the holidays. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) —

A large portion of a magnolia tree on the south grounds of the White House has been removed because it posed a safety risk.

Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for first lady Melania Trump, says the nearly 200-year-old tree was trimmed Wednesday morning while President Donald Trump and his family are in Florida for the holidays.

Grisham said earlier in the week that the first lady had approved of the tree-trimming plan after she reviewed reports about the magnolia from government experts and explored options with White House staff.

Grisham says Mrs. Trump was concerned about the safety of visitors and journalists who often stand in front of the tree during certain events.

President Andrew Jackson added the magnolia to the south grounds in 1835.