San Diego

La Jolla Tree That Some Say Inspired Dr. Seuss' ‘The Lorax' Topples

Officials are investigating why the wind-swept Monterey cypress toppled in Ellen Browning Scripps Park last week

"Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care.
Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air."

San Diego city leaders may soon be following advice from "The Lorax" to replace a recently toppled tree that some believe was the inspiration for fictional Truffula trees from the Dr. Seuss book. 

Parks and Recreation Department's Tim Graham said the city of San Diego plans to salvage some of the wood from the fallen Monterey cypress tree and repurpose it, though nothing has been officially decided. Another tree will be planted in its place. 

The century-old tree with a long trunk and bushy branches sat outside Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel's La Jolla home, where he worked in an office with a sweeping view of the coastline and the tree. 

Local legend, and the Smithsonian Magazine, says it is this tree that inspired the author's conservation tale The Lorax. 

But there are no facts to back up the lore. His wife, Audrey Geisel, told the La Jolla Village News in 2012 that the idea for Truffula trees in the 1971 environmental fable came from an Africa trip.

"He looked up at one of the (local) trees, and said, 'That's my tree. They've stolen my tree.' So that's where that came from," Audrey Geisel said.

Months before his trip to Kenya, Seuss  joined a campaign to save the eucalyptus trees being culled from the neighborhood surrounding his home, the Smithsonian said

Geisel told interviewers over the years that "The Lorax" was inspired by the anger he felt as he watched homes and condominiums being carved into the hillsides below him.

He called the book "one of the few things I ever set out to do that was straight propaganda," according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

In it, the title character tries to stop the Once-ler from chopping down Truffula Trees so that their tufts ("much softer than silk") can be used to manufacture Thneeds, a classically Seussian word for all manner of worthless merchandise.

"I speak for the trees," the Lorax says.

Geisel, who died in 1991, would often claim "The Lorax" was his favorite among the 48 books that he wrote, the UT reported.

Officials are investigating why the wind-swept Monterey cypress toppled in Ellen Browning Scripps Park last week. A Parks and Recreation spokesperson told the Union-Tribune the tree was in good shape and was not dead when it fell, with the exception of some minimal termite damage.  

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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