At Ellen Browning Scripps Park in La Jolla, CA, there was an extremely old Monterey Cypress tree, also known as the Lorax Tree. This funny looking tree was a local staple as it was many decades old and stood at an astounding 100 feet tall. The tree’s famed trunk was entirely bare and quite light, and stuck out starkly against it’s comical tuft of greenery at the top. This special tree was thought to have been the inspiration for the famous Truffula trees in Dr. Seuss’s classic children’s book, “The Lorax.”
In June of 2019, however, this tree seems to have tragically fallen. Unfortunately, these beautiful trees are often victim to fungus diseases, specifically the coryneum, canker fungus. Monterey Cypress are also easily felled by beetles that bore through the bark, slowly killing the tree if not carefully addressed. As for this specific tree, the San Diego Parks and Recreation says they are unaware of what happened. Speculation is that it was just old age, as the tree seemed to be dry even though the surrounding ground was moist.
It is said that Dr. Seuss was an environmental prophet ahead of his time when he wrote "The Lorax." The Lorax is the tale of the Once-ler building his business at the expense of the Truffula trees before the main character confronts him and "speaks for the trees" to help save them. The book became an animated film in 2012 starring Danny DeVito as the Lorax and Ed Helms as the Once-ler.
Theodor Geisel, known as Dr. Seuss, lived in La Jolla, California, from 1948 until his death at 87 in 1991. From the window of his home above the shores of La Jolla he could see an incredible Monterey Cypress tree located at Ellen Browning Scripps Park.
On June 13th of this year, the real-life Monterey Cypress, which as a species are unique to California's coastline, fell to the ground. Tim Graham, a San Diego Parks and Recreations spokesman, said the tree was estimated to be 80 to 100 years old. Graham said that the tree was in good condition, and only had a minor case of termites.
Luckily, no one was hurt when this large tree fell, as it occurred in the early morning. Crews took time to pull the tree apart by removing it piece by piece. Some pieces of this tree, however, may live on in a different way. The City of La Jolla is looking to repurpose the trunk of the tree and plant a new one in its place. Of course, this strange looking tree will always live on in the creative works of Dr. Seuss, and in the residents of La Jolla.
Update: The old Monterey Cypress tree is to be replaced with three new Monterey Cypress to replace the old Lorax Tree. Currently, the salvaged trunk pieces are being stored at a city-owned facility, and there are still plans to find a way to repurpose the iconic wood.