UnbeLEAFable plant life found at SFU

“SFU, even in the midst of the construction noise and dust, does still have a very beautiful campus.”

Image courtesy of Anindita Gupta

By: Anindita Gupta, Peak Associate

With the SFU Burnaby campus buzzing with the sound of drilling and the whacking of hammers, it is difficult to appreciate the surrounding beauty. With the uncalled-for summer rains, it is even harder. But, on a damp and gloomy Burnaby day, I decided to walk around campus to really notice the things that become even prettier in the rain – the plants! 

Before I begin, I would have to thank technology, without whom this would not have been possible! I found an app called PictureThis, that helps you snap pictures of plants and identify them. (If any passionate botanists are upset with me for bungling any of the names, it was the app!)

The first beautiful set of plants that anyone comes across when they first enter SFU from the Cornerstone entrance is the beautiful living wall of potted plants that are varying in colour and form. I did not end up catching every single species on the wall, but I did manage to identify a few. The first of these potted plants is the one that has leaves with a tinge of red on them. The Leucothoe axillaris, or coastal doghobble, is said to be a native to the North American continent. 

Another potted plant right above the previous one is the lavandin, or the garden lavender. Its scientific name is one of the less intimidating ones: Lavandula intermedia. This particular one is supposed to be a hybrid between the English and Portuguese lavender; ah, what a mix SFU has!

Image courtesy of Anindita Gupta

Moving on from the bus loop/Saywell Hall area, I walked to the Applied Science Building (ASB), but through the walkway with a canopy of greenery. In here, we have a mix of different trees which we may not notice in the everyday hustle and bustle of running into the ASB. Some of the trees that make this canopy are the western red cedar, scientifically identified as the thuja plicata, and the vine maple, scientifically recognized as the acer circinatum. The red cedar in particular is a very common tree on campus. (You notice only this if you’re really paying attention, like I was this time . . . like a bird-watcher, er, of trees!) It is a native to the continent and a giant coniferous tree often associated with the Douglas fir. The vine maple is a smaller tree compared to the first. Something interesting about the vine maple is that Coast Salish peoples sometimes used this tree to make fishing nets, and the Lower Thompson people sometimes used the wood from it to make cradles!


Image courtesy of Anindita Gupta

I made my way now towards the library, and my main intention was to find out about the two trees that are put on the side of the AQ stairs: the ones that are lit during the winter months. But as it turns out, they were removed due to the construction. Instead, all around these show-stealers, I located the Japanese maple, or the acer palmatum. These are the beauties that change their vibrant shades every season; they’re green in the summer and orange/red in the fall.  

Finally, what better place to end my SFU-trotting, plant-spotting experience than at the gorgeous water lilies in the AQ pond? The European white water lily, or nymphaea alba, floats almost all year round in our pond along with the many swimming koi fish! 

SFU, even in the midst of the construction noise and dust, does still have a very beautiful campus. I suggest taking a walk through it to clear your mind of midterms, papers, and finals in the coming few days. And the rain helps this walk in a way you wouldn’t imagine!

Image courtesy of Anindita Gupta