French ‘bromance’ tree could be quarantined 2 years

Where does un petit French friendship sapling go when it gets quarantined? Beltsville, Maryland, it seems. And it could be there for “at least two years,” according to a United States Department of Agriculture official.

The live oak tree is under the care of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, according to the USDA official.

The service “worked closely with French officials to facilitate the importation” of the tree, per a statement. It turns out there were actually two oak saplings, which arrived at Dulles International Airport on April 18. The two saplings were transported to a quarantine facility in nearby Beltsville, Maryland.

On April 23, both trees were delivered to National Park Service staff, who facilitated the planting at the White House with President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron. As French Ambassador to the US Gerard Araud tweeted, the roots were enclosed in a special plastic coating so as not to contaminate the White House soil.

The next day, one of the trees was returned to the Beltsville facility to “undergo further monitoring and testing.”

The other tree, presumably the tree that was planted, returned to the Beltsville facility April 26, after the Macrons departed Washington. Now, the trees face a long road ahead.

“The trees may require at least two years of quarantine inspection. Pathogens like the fungi phytophthora are not visible, like insects are, so it is not unusual for APHIS to monitor imported plants for two years before determining they may be permanently placed,” the official said.