Skip to main content

A Bank of Canada employee holds the new $20 bill at the bank in Ottawa Wednesday May 2, 2012.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Canada's new polymer $20 bills have been rapped for melting and not working in vending machines.

Now, botanists say one of the maple leaves on the note shows a Norway maple, which is not native to Canada.

"It's rather sad. It's not the first time that it's happened," said Julian Starr, a botany professor at the University of Ottawa who specializes in plant identification and classification. "It's almost Canadian in the fact that we can't even get our symbols right."

Story continues below advertisement

However, the Bank of Canada, which makes bank notes, says the $20 bill does not depict a Norway maple leaf, but rather a "stylized" design.

"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," said spokeswoman Julie Girard.

Ms. Girard said the bank worked with a botanist who specializes in trees. However, she declined to reveal the scientist's name, citing privacy reasons.

Prof. Starr, who has previously consulted for the Royal Canadian Mint, says there is no doubt that the leaf – which appears above the "20" – is from a Norway maple tree. It 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.

Norway maple trees, which are considered invasive in North America and have been banned in two states, are native to Europe and were introduced to North America in the mid-1800s. Canada has 10 native maple species.

As part of his classes, Prof. Starr chronicles a list of official botany errors, including on the penny and in the logos for the former Canadian Television Fund and the 2007 FIFA under-20 World Cup of soccer, which was held in Canada. The penny, he said, appears to show leaves from the plane tree rather than a maple tree. 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.

Canada's polymer $20 banknotes were introduced in November.

Story continues below advertisement

The bills don't work in thousands of vending machines and owners have complained that the Bank of Canada failed to listen to warnings about the amount of time it takes to reprogram the devices.

There have also been reports of polymer bills melting in the scorching summer sun.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter