The whimsical Monterey cypress tree believed to have inspired Dr. Seuss’s iconic 1971 children’s book, “The Lorax,” collapsed in June in La Jolla, Calif., the Smithsonian reports.
The cause of the beloved tree’s death is yet to be determined. Known locally as the “Lorax Tree,” it was believed to be 80 to 100 years old. The species has a 150-year lifespan.
“While city officials knew the tree had a termite problem, its collapse at its roots was unexpected and upsetting for those that knew it well,” the city stated.
The city is now exploring options for what to do with the fallen tree’s remains, with some suggesting the wood be used to create Seuss-inspired artwork or a playground in the area, according to the La Jolla Light. The city also has plans to plant a replacement Monterey cypress on the spot, which legend states that Dr. Seuss, whose real name was Theodor Geisel, could see from his home.
Though the tree and story it supposedly inspired are revered in La Jolla and elsewhere, “The Lorax” hasn’t always been warmly embraced by the wood flooring industry, with some objecting to its negative depiction of the lumber industry (in the story, a greedy factory owner harvests trees to the point of extinction, disrupting the ecosystem). In 1995, The National Oak Flooring Manufacturers Association (NOFMA) published a response to the tale, The Truax, which depicts the industry in a more positive light, and the author, Terri Birkett, later appeared on The Daily Show.