There has been a bit of controversy lately over the maple leaf on the new $20 bill in Canada, and whether it represents the leaf of a native maple or a Norway maple, or it’s a stylized version of maple leaves in general. I’m not going to dip into this debate (if you’re interested, most Canadian news sites have stories on the $20 bill’s Canadian-Norwegian-ambiguous maple leaf), but it did remind me of a new book on native plants I heard about last fall.
Official Plant Emblems of Canada: A Biodiversity Treasure, is from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and is available through Government of Canada Publications. It takes a look at the native plants that are official emblems in Canada, and includes scientific information and entertaining anecdotes on the plants as well as photographs, illustrations and paintings.
The book is written by two scientists, Dr. Ernie Small and Dr. Paul M. Catling, and a senior technician, Brenda Brookes, from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Dr. Small has written 14 books on plants, and his past work has focused on food plants and agriculture. Dr. Catling has written nine books and is the Curator of the Canadian National Vascular Plant Herbarium.
Canada’s large store of natural resources includes the many native plants that contribute to our food, medicine and building materials. One aim of this book is to promote the importance of these plants to Canadian society, identity and biodiversity. Our native plants are beautiful, but they’re also a useful and integral part of Canada’s natural environment.
There’s ongoing discussion and education about native plants in the gardening community, and the benefit they provide in our personal gardens and the environment. This book looks at the plants that officially represent Canada and its provinces and territories, and how native plants have a role beyond sustainable gardening — they’re part of our national identity.