Naturalist pines for nixed vanity plate

June 4, 2010 12:46:57 PM PDT
A tree lover who wanted to honor Michigan's state tree with license plates bearing its Latin name has had his plans nixed for fear the tags could cause offense. Sierra Club forestry expert Marvin Roberson had hoped for PINUS vanity plates, representing the white pine whose Latin name is pinus strobus.

The Department of State panel that vets vanity plate requests has voiced concern that the name could be confused with a word for the male sexual organ.

State spokeswoman Kelly Chesney says the Michigan Vehicle Code bans "letter combinations which might carry a connotation offensive to good taste and decency."

Roberson says he loves pines and hopes Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land overturns the decision.