SAN DIEGO — A century-old tree with a long trunk and bushy branches that some believe was the inspiration for fictional Truffula trees in Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax” has fallen in a coastal San Diego park.

“He looked up at one of the trees, and said, ‘That’s my tree. They’ve stolen my tree.’ So that’s where that came from.”Audrey Geisel, Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel’s wife

Officials are investigating why the wind-swept Monterey cypress toppled in Ellen Browning Scripps Park last week, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Monday. “The tree was not dead at the time it fell, and with the exception of some stressing due to termites, was generally in good shape,” said Parks and Recreation spokesman Tim Graham.

According to local legend, the tree inspired the “The Lorax” by Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel, who lived nearby and worked in an office with a sweeping view of the coastline.

But there are no facts to back up the lore. His wife, Audrey Geisel, told the La Jolla Village News in 2012 that the idea for Truffula trees in the 1971 environmental fable came from an Africa trip.

“He looked up at one of the (local) trees, and said, ‘That’s my tree. They’ve stolen my tree.’ So that’s where that came from,” Audrey Geisel said.

Officials Plan to Salvage Some of the Wood

Geisel told interviewers over the years that “The Lorax” was inspired by the anger he felt as he watched homes and condominiums being carved into the hillsides below him. He called the book “one of the few things I ever set out to do that was straight propaganda,” according to the Union-Tribune.

In it, the title character tries to stop the Once-ler from chopping down Truffula Trees so that their tufts (“much softer than silk”) can be used to manufacture Thneeds, a classically Seussian word for all manner of worthless merchandise.

“I speak for the trees,” the Lorax says.

Geisel, who died in 1991, would often claim “The Lorax” was his favorite among the 48 books that he wrote, the newspaper said.

Officials plan to salvage some of the wood and repurpose it, and a replacement tree will be planted, Graham said.

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