Debate sprouts over authenticity of maple leaf on new $20
The Bank of Canada's new $20 polymer bill is shown in this Nov. 7, 2012 photo. (Jeff Long / CTV Toronto)
Julianna Cummins, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Friday, January 18, 2013 12:20PM EST
Some botanists and The Bank of Canada are at odds about whether the new $20 bill carries the image of an authentic Canadian maple leaf.
The maple leaf in question appears in the translucent window of the new polymer $20 bill, which first went into circulation last November.
“You can’t deny that the picture is a Norway maple leaf,” said Sean Blaney, a botanist and the assistant director of the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre, in a phone interview with CTVNews.ca.
While the Norway maple is a European species, there are records of the tree being imported into North America in the era of Benjamin Franklin, Blaney said. The tree is now commonly planted throughout Canada, especially in urban settings.
Blaney said the prevalence of the Norway maple throughout Canada may be why its leaf made an appearance on the latest version of the $20 bill.
And the apparent error is not isolated to the new bill; Blaney said he’s seen the Norway maple leaf used instead of the Canadian version time and time again.
“Not incredibly surprised (but) I was disappointed for sure,” said Blaney of the image on the new $20.
But the Bank of Canada insists the image on the new bill is an authentic Canadian maple leaf -- and not its Norwegian counterpart.
“We go into very great detail to make sure these notes are accurate,” said Julie Girard, a spokeswoman with The Bank of Canada.
The bank consulted a dendrologist -- a scientist who specializes in the area of botany that looks at trees and shrubs -- to create a stylized version of the maple leaf to appear on the new bills.
The stylized leaf is meant to contain the different aspects of the numerous Canadian species of maple trees, of which there are about 10 different in Canada.
Girard pointed out that the bank’s leaf design “does not have an overall rectangular shape, nor does the leaf display the long, pointed lobes that identify the Norway maple leaf.”
While the leaf on the Canadian flag is also stylized, it still looks like a Canadian sugar maple leaf, said Julian Starr, a professor at the University of Ottawa and a specialist in systematics who researches at the Canadian Museum of Nature.
He said he cannot say the same of the image on the new $20 bill.
“You can say it’s stylized.But it’s stylized to the point where it doesn’t look like any native species at all."
Like Blaney, Starr said he’s seen many examples of the Norway maple used in logos meant to symbolize Canada.
For an example, Starr points to the maple key used in the Canadian Television Fund logo, which he says looks more like that of a Norway maple.
“It’s our national symbol -- it’s stunning that we continuously get it wrong.”