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Canada put 'wrong' maple leaf on new banknote, say experts

posted 19 Jan 2013, 03:13 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 19 Jan 2013, 03:14 ]

Botanists say the leaf on Canada's new C$20 bill is maple, not sugar maple.

OTTAWACANADA (JANUARY 18, 2013) (CBC) - The Bank of Canada has barked up the wrong maple tree with its new plastic banknotes, using a foreign Norway maple leaf as the emblem on the notes instead of the sugar maple that the country has on its national flag, an eagle-eyed Canadian botanist says.

The untrained eye might not at first spot the difference between the maple leaf on the new $20, $50 and $100 bills and the North American sugar maple.

But it is clear to Sean Blaney, a botanist who tracks plants for the Atlantic CanadaConservation Data Centre in New Brunswick, and who brought it first to the attention of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

"It's really hard to deny the image is of a Norway maple," Blaney said on Friday (January 18).

He said the Norway maple has more lobes or sections and has a more pointed outline than the sugar maple, and the lobe that rises in the center is shorter than the sugar maple's.

The Norway maple was imported from Europe and is now also common in North America. Blaney said the Norway maple should not be on the Canadian currency.

"We wouldn't think of putting a palm tree on the Canadian currency or a tiger or baboon or something that doesn't occur in Canada as a native species and the same should go for Norway maple," Blaney added.

The central bank said the image on the new bills was purposefully designed not to represent any specific species but rather to be a combination of various kinds.

But another expert criticised the bank's move, saying it was wrong.

"I would have said immediately that it would be best to make it look more like a native maple leaf. I mean this to me is just ... wrong," said Julian Starr, a botany professor at the University of Ottawa.

The banknote designers created the image with the help of a dendrologist, a botanist who specializes in trees and shrubs.

The Bank of Canada had to apologize in August after news broke that it replaced the picture of an Asian lab assistant on its new C$100 banknote with a woman who looked more Caucasian.