Dr. Seuss was inspired to write The Lorax by a tree. Now it's gone

"But those trees! Those trees! Those Truffula Trees! All my life I'd been searching for trees such as these," the author wrote.

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Shelby Brown
2 min read

This is the tree in La Jolla, California, that apparently inspired The Lorax.

City of San Diego

A Monterey Cypress tree that may have inspired Dr. Seuss' famous children's book The Lorax fell last week. The Truffula trees from The Lorax, a fable about environmental destruction published in 1971, are thought to be modeled on the cypress' curved trunk and clump of leaves. 

Dr Seuss

Dr. Seuss wrote dozens of children's books.

Gene Lester / Getty Images

"Way back in the days when the grass was still green and the pond was still wet and the clouds were still clean, and the song of the Swomee-Swans rang out in space... one morning, I came to this glorious place. And I first saw the trees! The Truffula Trees! The bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees! Mile after mile in the fresh morning breeze," the author wrote in The Lorax.  

Enlarge Image

The Lorax was published in 1971.

Penguin Random House

Dr. Seuss, the pen name of Theodor Seuss Geisel, apparently could see the tree in Scripps Park from his home in La Jolla, California.  

The tree wasn't dead when it fell early Thursday morning, though it had suffered some stress from termites, said Tim Graham, a spokesman for the city of San Diego, which oversees Scripps Park.

The tree was about 100 years old, Graham said, and Monterey Cypress trees typically live 40 to 140 years. The city will reportedly salvage the trunk, repurpose it and plant a new tree.

"We are saddened to hear that this beautiful tree has fallen down, as we are when any tree that has lived for decades falls," Susan Brandt, president of Dr. Seuss Enterprises, said in a statement Tuesday. She added, however, that it isn't known for sure that this particular tree was the inspiration for the Truffula trees in The Lorax. 

In Dr. Seuss' book, the small, orange Lorax appears from a stump of a felled tree in the Truffula forest to try to stop the greedy Once-ler from cutting down all the trees and profiting from them.

"I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues," the Lorax says until the very end of the story.

According to a website about the city, La Jolla inspired Dr. Seuss in several ways. For example, the cranky orange fish in the Cat and the Hat is similar to the Garibaldi fish, rarely seen anywhere other than the coast of southern California. 

Originally published June 17.
Updates, June 18: Adds comments from the city of San Diego and Dr. Seuss Enterprises.