Winds Topple 223-Year-Old Tree Planted For Marie Antoinette

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It survived the French Revolution and a devastating 1999 storm, but strong winds have finally toppled a towering beech tree planted for Marie Antoinette more than two centuries ago at Versailles Palace.

The 82-foot high purple beech, one of the last trees in a hamlet dedicated to the former queen in the vast palace park, was felled Friday by an unusually fierce winter gust, the park's head gardener said.

The 223-year-old tree's collapse, which also exhumed a jumble of roots, earth and grass, was the latest blow to the ex-queen's Versailles vegetation after her most cherished oak tree died in a 2003 heat wave.

The beech, a facus sylvatica purpura, featured its own plaque showing that it was planted in 1786. A decade ago, it had been damaged but survived an even more destructive storm that knocked down thousands of trees at Versailles.

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