Lucky Clover

If you ever need a little extra luck, you might find yourself wishing you had a four leaf clover. Irish tradition says that people who find these special clovers will come into good fortune, and people in Ireland have the "luck of the Irish" because so many clovers grow there. But just because a plant has four leaves doesn't mean it's a real clover.

Types of Clover

The clover that produces genuine four leaf clovers is the white clover. There are a number of plants that look similar but belong to a different plant family. Real white clover is called trifolium repens. The vast majority of stems have three leaves, and it produces a pinkish white, ball-shaped flower. A similar looking plant is the oxalis deppei which has some purple in the middle of the leaves and produces only four leafed plants. There is also a plant called pepperwort that is often mistaken for the lucky clover, but all of its stems naturally have four leaves.

White clover is found all over the world, especially Ireland, and it is often thought of as a weed. But white clover is interesting because once in a while it will produce a lucky fourth leaf. This fourth leaf is usually a little smaller than the other three, which is another way you can identify them.

Four Leaf Clover

Traditionally, four leaf clovers have been so hard to find that they are thought to bring the finder good luck. Since there is only about one four leaf clover for every 10,000 three leaf clovers, you do have to be pretty lucky to find one! The four leaves are said to represent love, faith, hope and, of course, luck.

Even rarer is the five leaf clover. Clover collectors consider five leaf clovers extra lucky! They are especially prized in Ireland, where they are called "rose clovers." But someone has even discovered a clover with as many as 56 leaves. The extra leaves are caused by a mutation. Whether this mutation is genetic or caused by the environment is unknown.

Four Leaf Clover Meaning

It's not just the Irish who treasure four leaf clovers. A Christian legend says that Eve brought one with her when she and Adam fled the Garden of Eden and that the clover is a symbol of the garden. In the Middle Ages, children thought that carrying a four leaf clover would allow them to see fairies. The Welsh considered them a charm against evil spirits. In the year 1620 Sir John Melton wrote that, "If any man walking in the fields should find a four-leaved grass, he shall in a short while find some good thing." That was the first written mention of their good-luck properties.

How to Find a Four Leaf Clover

It's considered most lucky to stumble upon a four leaf clover by accident, but if you want to find one, there are some techniques you can use to make it more likely. Look for the tell-tale white, ball-shaped flower of the white clover. They usually grow in large patches in unmown grass or along roadsides.

Run your hand over the patch of clover. Sometimes a four leaf one will just pop out, because your eyes notice the difference automatically. If you don't find one after several minutes, move on to another patch. Often times, you can find several of them growing next to each other. Remember that patch for later, because they often regrow in the same place.

Areas that have been disturbed or trampled on often have more four and five leaf clovers. They are also more common in late summer than in spring.

Preserving Your Four Leaf Clover

If you want to preserve your clover, you can press it between two pieces of tissue in a heavy book. Wait several weeks for it to dry. Its color should be preserved, and then you can put it in a frame or wherever you like. You can also press your clover between pieces of clear plastic tape. If you find a lot of them, consider giving them as gifts. What better gift is there than a little bit of the luck of the Irish?

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