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As a gardener who has suffered under the shade and roots of three (3) Norway maples planted inextricably in the easeway fronting my house, I can sympathize with those who are distressed about a Norway maple leaf being enshrined forever on the new Canadian currency. It was supposed to be a sugar maple leaf, which has three triangular major leaf lobes. Instead, the small leaf just to the left of Queen Elizabeth’s head looks much more like the five-lobed Norway maple leaf.

The Norway maple is an alien scourge throughout the Northeast. (Indeed, a new list has it classified as an invasive species in NY state.) The seedlings are broadcast far and wide, and they grow quickly. I guess that’s why some misguided city arborists chose these to reforest certain streets of Buffalo, many of which had been devastated by Dutch Elm disease. I shouldn’t complain too bitterly—at least we have a tall leafy canopy over our little side street—unlike many of the desolate cul de sacs of Western New York’s suburban outposts.

Nonetheless, thanks to this alien maple, I am paying a landscape company to help me install a raised bed that will make it possible to plant something in the barren dirt between the three maples.  I have to do something—can’t stand the look of it any more, and I’m pretty sure that a tough perennial like hakonechloa grass will stand up to the conditions, even when the roots spread throughout the raised bed, as they surely will.

If you’ve never had Norway maples on your property, then you can’t possibly understand how loathsome this tree is. Oh, and by the way, even the fall color of such varieties as Crimson King is usually undermined by some kind of fungal disease that disfigures the leaves, but (sad to say) doesn’t kill the tree. So in fall you get slow-falling leaves with weird white or black spots on them.

In conclusion, I agree with anyone who is protesting this choice for the Canadian currency. These are the type of trees that give all urban trees a bad name.

Posted by

Elizabeth Licata
on January 28, 2013 at 8:00 am, in the category Ministry of Controversy.