The Lorax Tree
La Jolla’s Famous Monterey Cypress
The lone Monterey Cypress (Cupressus Macrocarpa) that La Jolla locals refer to as “The Lorax Tree” was believed to be the inspiration for Theodor Seuss Geisel’s (Dr. Seuss) Truffula trees in “The Lorax.” The cypress was located at Ellen Browning Scripps Park, and was believe to be around 100 years old when it fell June 13, 2019. The tree slammed to the ground around 7am, damaging most of the wood upon impact. No injuries were reported in the incident. Arborists and experts collected small samples of the tree, but it was the general consensus that the tree was in good health aside from minor insect activity at the time it fell; suggesting that a storm at the time may be to blame for the tree’s death. In cooperation with the city of San Diego’s parks and recreations department, the majority of the remnants of the cypress were collected and preserved for reclamation art projects. There are currently only two known sources for the wood materials; Master Monk Gaming and Fender Guitars.
“The Lorax,” published in 1971, was not an immediate hit. However, it gained support over the years and became a well known and loved part of American Culture.
The book was written to both educate future generations and encourage reading skills. Besides the book, a movie was made of the same title in 2012 celebrating the story and the global green movement. In 2018, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit Court cited the story in part of their ruling to block the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
The city of La Jolla kept a portion of the tree to be used as a memorial and city improvement project to commemorate Theodor Geisel and the locals’ appreciation of “The Lorax.” The remainder was collected and preserved. The preserved wood, bark, and cones were then offered to the worldwide community of woodworkers for purchase. 10% of proceeds from sale of the wood used in these projects will be donated to global reforestation efforts through One Tree Planted and Eden Projects.
Photo credit: city of San Diego, Don Balch (two for COA),Jose Saenz, Kate Harrow (additional photos)