Great moments in pedantry: Canada puts the wrong maple leaf on its $20 bill

Hey, that's not a Canadian sugar maple leaf! That is very clearly the leaf of the invasive Norway maple.


  1. Questioning the accuracy of banks is no longer permitted.  You will have to correct your taxonomy books.

  2. It’s embarrassing for Canada, but is it as embarrassing as when someone in the US Pentagon mistook a 2004 Canadian quarter, which features a red poppy in its center, for a high-tech listening device?

    I think not.

    1. The image of the Queen in the photo is the latent image in the foil strip on the back in the clear section of the note.  The image is missing about 1/5 the actual note image on the left.  The front of the note has a large image of the Queen in the same part as the back has the Vimy Memorial.

  3. No different than the USPS using a photo of New York New York Casino’s Statue of Liberty on one of its stamps

  4. I am outraged!  I ask that everyone with one of these defective notes send them to me so that I can mail them to Parliament in protest!

  5. Can I just say, maple leaves aside, that’s one ugly-ass bill?

    The Queen weirdly stuck up in the corner (“photobombing”, per Alan above), the odd disjointedness between the main area and the strip of plain white on the left, the large amounts of completely bare space, the two different styles of depicting maple leaves (regardless of which species we’re talking about it), the pointless reversing back and forth of the “20s” on the Queen’s face, the boring font and white outline used for “Canada.”

    It feels like some out-of-work “Web 2.0” designer created this, along side several dozen committees.

    1. The photo of the sample note in the referenced article does not accurately depict the real bill. The Queen’s face, for example, is actually a faint hologram over a transparent part of the bill, so it is barely visible unless the light catches it at the right angle. It also isn’t coloured. The reversing 20s are there because that part of the bill is transparent, so they’re visible from both sides, and so need to be shown in both directions. And the flowers over the 20 on the right are different.

    2. I can’t defend all of it, but the reversing 20s are on a transparent portion of the bill, so the reversing isn’t pointless.

  6. Anyone with those new $20 bills that feels outraged enough about this issue can send them to me. I’ll gladly take them off your hands.

  7. According to that article, “[t]he Norway maple came to North America in the 18th century, imported by a Philadelphia merchant and peddled as a garden adornment.”

    Since Canadian confederation only began in 1867, it would appear that the leaf is actually older than the country. Besides, even if the Norway Maple is a “foreign species”, I don’t see why that is such a big deal. Canada is a nation of immigrants and actively promotes multiculturalism as a national identity. So what if the plant, just like most everyone else in the country, initially came from somewhere else?

    1. Because it’s not the native species, consarnit! We have reverence for our native flora…our native peoples, on the other hand…. 

      1. Well, except when the native flora is on top or downstream of a valuable mineral deposit.  Then they can darn well pick up and move.

    2. Please realize that there actually exist many people (quaintly known as “morons” in the local parlance) who actually believe attempting to address the havoc invasive species wreak on local ecosystems is a form of intolerance or xenophobia.

      1. Please also realize that there exist many idiots (quaintly know as “Cretins” in the local bumptious vernacular) who actually believe attempting to belittle others is a form of revelry but is more likely a form of debauchery with a hint of vapidity.

  8. Be on the lookout for Krone lurking next to Loonies in your change purse. These are clearly early days in what will be a decades-long covert program to take back Vinland.

  9. Due to this foliage debacle, I would strongly suggest a better national symbol : Zap Rowsdower. To this day, proud tributes are sung of this mulleted hero.
    “He comes to save the day in a broken truck
    With a stinky denim jacket on his back
    He couldn’t help this movie which really sucks
    But at least we didn’t have to see him play H-hacky sack!”

    1. Rowsdower!

      You lousy stinking francophonic bacon-loving bastards,
      Your country’s just a giant piece of…

  10. Canadian cities (or at least Ontario cities) planted Norway maples in boulevards and right of ways all over the place in the 50s to the 70s.  They’re a nuisance, and prone to bizarre habits like self-stangulation.  They’re pretty short-lived and earlier-planted ones are now starting to die off and are being slowly replaced.  But I’d say many Canadians are more familiar with Norway maples than they are with sugar maples or other native maples.

    1. Did city kids not get dragged out to maple farms in late winter/early spring? That was a common field trip for my school. They’d always have some buckets up to show how the sap used to be collected even though they’d switched over to flexible tubing.

  11. The Canadian Mint has never been good at biology.  The maple leaves on the penny are attached to the stem in alternate configuration, whereas actual maples attach in opposite configuration.

  12. ‘Invasive species.’ Botanists should drop this term.

    Invasive species … like – from outer space?


    Invasive in that they don’t respect political borders … and THAT’S what is wrong with the term; it is a description of political and economic functioning – not speciation.

    Dominance of a new species is change – change is good; change is life. And due to the complexity of the biosphere, our best scientific hypothesis about why this is happening … is probably wrong.

    Humans effect climate – no doubt in my mind; and climate change will cause economic stress – But not the end of the world – only stresses on our civilization.

    Let the invading species be – they’re not hurting the other species – just spelling them off as the collectively build Gaia’s biomass layer (that support billions of species).

    As for the mix-up – yes it is ironic because this government doesn’t represent the heritage of the country – they represent the Petrol Death Empire.

    1.  Well, in biology, ‘invasive’ is defined by its ‘endogenous’ context. Yes, there are many, many instances of this on earth. ‘Survival of the fittest’ of course includes a version of the original fitt (old German), which (transitive/adverbial dependent) indicated ‘befitted towards/in its place — or armed (against). An endogenous species is one which is, developmentally, a morphological expression of a particular ‘set’ of phenomena. An invasive species is one which is located in a set of phenomena in which it did not develop. The latter is a problem, because invasive ‘events’ often lead to a spiral of biological ‘evil’ (ie ‘goatscapes’), whereby ‘lack of location’ (if unchecked) inexorably leads to lack of diversity, which then leads to a  lack of equilibrium(population/distribution). For instance, introducing a species (a type of mongoose, say) which is not endogenous to Hawaii (for instance) will disrupt the diversity of endogenous bird species, which will then disrupt an equilibrium dynamic between said bird populations and certain endogenous plants. Eventually, the ‘set’ of phenomena known as the place-specific biosphere will be catastrophically transformed into a ‘goatscape’ (any biologists reading this will know what a goatscape is) — a location marked by low diversity and a high uniformity of gradual dynamism.
      As this is a ‘great moments in pedantry’ post… just sayin’ yo.
      Post Script — Dear grammar nazis, I know I have poor structure. Apologies.

    2. Dominance of a new species is change – change is good; change is life.

      That is breathtakingly idiotic.

    3. Let the invading species be – they’re not hurting the other species

      I don’t live in Canada, but around here the invading species are hurting the hell out of everything else.  Purple lithrum, callery pear, dutch elm disease, chestnut blight – I have a chestnut dying in my north garden right now.

    1. That’s the Queen of Canada. I admit she looks a lot like the Queen of the United Kingdom as well as the Queens of Australia and New Zealand, but that’s just because they all reside in the same body.

      1. No, no. They are all body doubles. You can never destroy them. As one is taken out another can surface anywhere on the globe to replace her.

        Otherwise these new polymer notes are the best ever if seen in real life and not photographed.

  13. I, for one, welcome our Norwegian arbolescent overlords.

    Seriously, I wish Norway would invade us; they’ve got their shit together.

  14. It seems pedantic, but that leaf looks really wrong.  It’s clearly the wrong species even from someone like me who isn’t a botany expert.

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