La Jolla's "Lorax" tree — which may or may not have inspired Ted "Dr. Seuss" Geisel's children's story of the same name — is being replaced after it toppled over from old age June 13 in Scripps Park.
"The City is planning on planting three, 36-inch box Monterey Cypress to replace the Lorax tree," said City public information officer Timothy W. Graham. "The concern is that it is harder to get trees established close to the coast. But they (crews) will start there and monitor progress. The plan is to commence planting the last week of October."
Landscape architect Jim Neri described the Monterey Cypress as "a good horticultural choice for that exact location. It's going to look great."
Monterey Cypress, or Hesperocyparis macrocarpa, is a medium-sized coniferous evergreen which can become irregular and flat-topped as a result of strong winds typical in its habitat. It grows in ideal conditions to a height of 133 feet, and its trunk diameter can reach over 8 feet. Its bright green foliage grows in dense sprays and releases a deep lemony aroma when crushed.
"They are fast-growing right on the coast in temperate parts of the world like La Jolla," Neri said of the cypress which grows along the central California coast. "They have some problems in parts of Southern California because the air isn't humid enough at times. But in beautiful La Jolla, we don't have a big problem with that."
Neri said the Monterey Cypress has "leaves that protect them from the salt that's in the air. They do like moisture. They especially love the fog."
After seeing the old Lorax tree that succumbed, Neri said, "It was pretty rotted in its trunk."
Concluded Neri, "I've very pleased they're (City's) going with the Monterey Cypress."
"We really have no idea if Ted (Dr. Seuss) based the truffula trees on this particular tree, but regardless we are saddened to hear that this beautiful tree has fallen down, as we are when any tree that has lived for decades falls," said Susan Brandt, president of Dr. Seuss Enterprises. "That said, we are happy to hear that the park district has plans to plant a new tree and hope that this new tree has the opportunity to grow and delight park goers for years and years."
Born in 1904, Theodor Seuss Geisel was an American children's author, political cartoonist, illustrator, poet, animator, screenwriter, and filmmaker. He is known for his work writing and illustrating more than 60 books under the pen name Dr. Seuss. His work includes many of the most popular children's books of all time, selling over 600 million copies and being translated into more than 20 languages.
After World War II, Geisel and his wife Audrey moved to La Jolla. He died of cancer on Sept. 24, 1991, at his home at age 87. In 1995, four years after his death, University of California, San Diego renamed its library building the Geisel Library in honor of Ted and Audrey Geisel for their generous contributions to the library and their devotion to improving literacy.
Graham said the sections of the old Lorax tree that were removed from Scripps Park are currently being stored at a City facility. The plan is to find a way to repurpose the iconic tree's wood, but nothing has been decided.