Jewel Samad / AFP - Getty Images file
This December 1, 2011 file photo shows the 2011 National Christmas Tree after being lit by US President Barack Obama and the First Family during a ceremony on The Ellipse near the White House in Washington, DC.
The Colorado blue spruce passed away "due to complications resulting from transplant shock" just 14 months after it was planted in the Ellipse field outside the White House, the National Park Service said May 4, 2012. Born on a tree farm in New Jersey, it replaced a similar tree knocked down in a wind storm after 33 years.
A successor tree -- also a Colorado blue spruce, from an undisclosed state adjacent to the US capital -- has been identified, and it will be planted in late October, the federal agency said. The ceremonial lighting of the National Christmas Tree is a Washington tradition that dates back to 1923 when then-president Calvin Coolidge flicked the switch on a fir tree festooned with 2,500 electric bulbs. Last Christmas, in a nod to 21st century energy efficiency, the tree featured 65 sets of programmable color-changing LED lights as well as 160 starburst ornaments in an heirloom topper design.
National Park officials will remove the tree from outside the White House on Saturday and a new tree will be planted in October. Msnbc.com's Al Stirrett reports.