Maple leaf found in Victoria backyard breaks record — unofficially

Vancouver Island might hold the world’s biggest maple leaves, whether or not the Guinness World Records confirms it.

In November, Victoria’s Marilyn deHaan found a maple leaf in her backyard that was 60.9 centimetres wide and 72 cm long — the largest, unofficially, ever found.

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The official Guinness Book of Records title for largest maple leaf is held by Vikas Tanwar and family in Richmond. In December 2010, they found a maple leaf that measured 53 cm wide and 52.2 cm long.

The previous record was set earlier that year, when Guinness put a call out to Canadians to find the largest maple leaf.

Claims came in from across the country but it was nine-year-old Nolan Toner, of Toronto, who claimed the initial record with his maple leaf that was 43 cm wide by 38 long.

The Toronto Maple Leafs got wind of the win and invited him to a game, possibly for good luck. After all, they haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1967.

Young Nolan had the advantage of being in the city with the records company’s only Canadian adjudicator.

Several other claimants came forward but couldn’t afford the $5,000 fee to have the adjudicator come to them.

This includes Nathan Startup and Alanna Turner, who believed they had found the world’s largest maple leaf in October 2013 while hiking in Stamp Falls Provincial Park near Port Alberni.

“We were looking online and as it stands now, I think we have it beat,” Startup told the Alberni Valley Times about their leaf, which measured 53.34 centimetres wide and 71.12 cm long with the stem.

But it appears deHaan might have them all beat.

“I’ve found quite a few big leaves,” she said.

She often rakes them up in her Dean Park yard where a young maple tree sits, while she takes her Doberman pinscher out for fresh air. Several in the past have been bigger than the most recent ones found, she said.

DeHaan has dried a few and used some as table decorations over Christmas, but has no plans to spring for an adjudicator to give her the world record title.

Patrick von Aderkas, a botanist and professor of forest biology at the University of Victoria, said bigger is not necessarily better when it comes to leaves on trees.

“They’re basically solar panels for the tree,” he said, adding that every species has its range of sizes and functionality. “These just happen to be really huge leaves.”

The bigleaf maple is the largest maple tree in Canada, growing mostly in coastal B.C.

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