According to a respected University of Ottawa botanist, the stylized maple leaf that appears on the new 20 is from a species not native to Canada—the Norway maple. “It’s almost Canadian in the fact that we can’t even get our symbols right,” Julian Starr, a plant identification and classification specialist, told The Globe and Mail.
Starr also told the Globe that like the leaf on the bill, the Norway maple “has five main lobes, or projections from the body of the leaf, and the tips are stringy. On the other hand, sugar maple leaves have just three lobes and the tips aren’t stringy.” Hmm, do the Norwegian leaves melt in the sun, too?
The Bank of Canada denies this of course, with a spokeswoman telling the national newspaper that “We created an image for the bank note that represents a stylized Canadian maple leaf, if you will, so that it wouldn’t represent any specific species, specifically not the Norway maple.” You can choose to believe that if you want, but me, I’d take the word of an acclaimed scientist over a paid government hack any day of the week…
And apparently, this wouldn’t be the first time the government dun goofed on our national currency. According to Starr, the leaves on the soon-to-be-extinct penny are actually from a plane tree, not a maple. “The coin’s two leaves emerge from different parts of the stem, rather than being directly opposite each other, which is the case for maple trees,” as per the Globe.
Now, the Norway maple might be considered an invasive species, banned in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, but hey, on the bright side, at least we didn’t put an American leaf on our money!