Wild blueberry? Sugar maple? Wild rose? Which plant sums up Canada best?
The fiddlehead: This plant is actually a curled baby ostrich fern, harvested at a time a fern is arguably at its cutest. The fiddlehead is packed with nutrient potential, intended for its growth. Rivalling spinach in its goodness, the flavourless plant holds its own among healthy greens. It is promise personified. - Michael Kesterton
(CRAIG LINE/Craig Line/The Associated Press)
The stinging nettle: This hardy plant is a vital food for butterflies, other insects, and hungry humans. Like many Canadians, it dies back in winter and reappears in the spring. Stinging nettles are found across Canada. Although they can give you an itchy rash, the nettles are a nutritional powerhouse, rich in iron, potassium, calcium and vitamins. Foodies enjoy their bitter taste. Nettle fibres can even be made into clothes. - Michael Kesterton
(CHRIS HELGREN/Chris Helgren/Reuters)
The sugar maple: The First Nations were collecting maple sap and boiling it long before European settlers arrived. The resulting syrup has more nutritional value than mere sugar -- it contains a range of vitamins and minerals. By tapping this tree, early Canadian settlers were taught how to harvest responsibly a renewable, sustainable resource. It is a tree for the 21st century. - Michael Kesterton
(Viktor Pivovarov/Viktor Pivovarov/The Canadian Press)
The wild rose: With their beauty and wonderful fragrance, wild roses are a logical emblem for Alberta. The blossoms are often a pale pink, like much of Canada itself. Wild roses can tower three metres high and are found in open forests, rocky slopes and clearings. Like so many plants Canadians love, they are edible. Their fruit, called rose hips, is a pricy way to get vitamin C. Rose hips taste like apples and can be used for tea. - Michael Kesterton
(Tory Zimmerman/Tory Zimmerman/The Globe and Mail)
The trembling Aspen: This is the most widely spread tree species in North America, but in parts of Canada, it is the only tree species. Sensitive to each passing breeze, the aspen colonizes areas where logging or fire has decimated the landscape. Given a choice, Canadian beaver prefer the versatile aspen to any other species for building. - Michael Kesterton
(Chris Bolin/Chris Bolin For The Globe and Mail)
Wild blueberry: David Suzuki nominates this berry as our national plant, writing that it is 'indelibly identified with the boreal forest, that vast belt of green that is our country’s heart and lungs, pumping out clean air, absorbing carbon dioxide and providing an immense haven for wildlife... They are native to Canada. As far as anyone can tell, they’ve been growing here forever.' Plus, he adds, 'wild blueberries are a major food source for another national icon, bears.'