Vol. 2, Issue 5, February 3, 2004
Truffula Trees Removed from Endangered Species List
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced last week that the truffula tree (truffula ridicula) is being removed from the endangered species list.
"It is always a great moment when one of our recovery programs succeeds to the point where a species can be de-listed," said Interior Secretary Gale Norton at a press conference. "In this case, it is really Dr. Geisel's volunteer recovery program that we have to thank."
The truffula tree is native to the American West, and resembles a palm tree with garishly colored, fine-tufted foliage. Before the trees were exploited and used for manufacturing cheap textiles in the 1960s and early 1970s, mile after mile of truffula tree could be seen in the fresh morning breeze.
"That was before the Once-Ler Corporation began churning out that awful fabric," said University of Washington botanist Franklin Wood. "'Thneed' was supposed to be a hip, modern alternative to tweed. In fact, it was hideous and quite uncomfortable." However, thneed was adopted as a countercultural icon and was used for a variety of items ranging from shirts and socks to curtains and covers for bicycle seats. The coarse texture and weave of the fabric, combined with the loud orange, pink, and yellow color of the truffula leaves, is considered by many to be the driving force behind the signature style of the late 1960s and early1970s which boomers have spent years trying to forget.
"The Once-Ler company used to claim the stuff was "much softer than silk," and that it had the "sweet smell of fresh butterfly milk,"" said Wood. "That was malarkey, of course. The only time it smelled sweet was when people smoked it - which many did, of course."
After the Once-Ler corporation nearly wiped out the truffula tree, in a display of spectacularly poor planning, the CEO became an eccentric recluse and the tree was declared Endangered by Fish and Wildlife. The late Dr. Theodore Geisel was a botanist who managed to procure one of the last of the truffula seeds in the mid 1970s from the eccentric executive. Since then, Geisel and a network of determined volunteers have cultivated the trees in secret preserves throughout the United States.
"Geisel was personally motivated, I suspect," said Wood. "Rumor was he smoked an entire truffula tuft a day."
Despite the successful de-listing of the truffula tree, however, the Fish and Wildlife Service notes that the tree's original eco-system may be permanently lost.
"A number of species indigenous to the original truffula forests are still endangered," said Norton. "There are only six breeding pairs of swomee-swans left; and brown bar-ba-loots are even harder to breed in captivity than pandas. We still have a long way to go."