In anticipation of “The Lorax” movie opening March 2, a national restaurant chain has been giving away bookmarks with seeds of blue-spruce and Canadian white pine.
A press release dated February 21st 2012 explains the program: “In keeping with the animated adventure’s theme that one person can make a difference, IHOP is distributing three million limited-edition bookmarks embedded with seed paper that can be planted to flourish across a range of climates and forest condition.”
It’s great to encourage kids to plant trees. Unfortunately these aren’t the Truffula trees that the Lorax fought to protect. Planting alien trees in Hawai‘i can be tricky. The characteristics of the bookmark trees that allow them flourish across a range of climates and forest conditions can also help them invade and outcompete native species. In Hawai‘i pines have a reputation of escaping cultivation into high-elevation ecosystems. Think twice before planting these pines in our forests. As the voiceover from the movie trailer says when the boy receives the last seed of the Truffula tree, “It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.”
After concerns were raised, distribution of the seeds was discontinued in Hawaii.
Make the Lorax proud and plant a tree that is regionally appropriate to the area. Find suggestions of native Hawaiian plants here: www.nativeplants.hawaii.edu
And on a final note: ever notice how a lehua blossom on an ‘ōh‘ia looks a bit like a Truffula tree?