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What is a Four Leaf Clover?

Four-leaf clovers are associated with good luck.
Both horseshoes and four-leaf clovers are considered good luck charms.
Flag of Ireland, which is associated with four leaf clovers.
White clover normally has three leaves.
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  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 25 August 2014
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A four leaf clover is an aberration of the normally three-leaf Trifolium repens, or "white clover." A perennial member of the pea family, it is a deep green, flowering vine with white blossoms. Also known as the shamrock, it is the unofficial state symbol of Ireland, having many religious and legendary associations, including the provision of good luck. Although the four leaf mutation is considered to be relatively rare, the species as a whole is very common and has agricultural, culinary and medicinal uses. People often confuse it with other varieties of clover.

Religious and Spiritual Associations

The three leaves of Trifolium repens have become associated with the Christian Trinity: God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit. This association is largely connected to Maewyn Succat, better known as St. Patrick, who is said to have used the species to explain the gospel to people in Ireland. An extra leaf is said by some to stand for God's grace. A less dogmatic interpretation applied to the four leaf clover is that one leaf stands for faith, another for hope, the third for love and the last for luck.

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Associated Myths

Many myths are connected with four leaf clovers, by far the most enduring of which is that they bring bearers good luck. This is actually an adaptation from the Christian story of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, being expelled from the Garden of Eden. According to the legend, Eve brought the plant out of Paradise, and as a remnant of that perfect land, it was able to bring good fortune. The line between myth and religion with the four leaf clover, therefore, is a little blurred.

In the Middle Ages, people also thought that it allowed a person to see fairies and sprites, and children often searched fields for one in order to see into the magical realm. The plants are also said to make a person wealthy, grow only where a mare has foaled, protect against witchcraft and even help women determine who their future husbands will be.

Rarity

One breeder of white clover, Yoke and Zoom, claims that only about one in 10,000 plants naturally will mutate to produce four leaves. They believe environmental stresses cause the mutation, and that a plant that mutates regularly is even rarer. Through cloning, hydroponics and other methods, however, the company claims to have increased the production of four leaves on the Trifolium repens to one in 41 plants.

Description

White clover grows to about 4 - 6 inches (10.2 - 15.2 centimeters) tall, and it can spread up to 3 feet (0.9 meters). The stems branch from the base, and the slightly notched leaves are usually 0.4 - 0.8 inches (1 - 2 cm) across. Flowers, which are typically 0.19 - 0.35 inches (5 - 9 millimeters), generally appear on taller stalks and are positioned on roundish flowerheads, which measure 0.59 - 0.78 inches (15 - 20 mm) wide.

Plants Sometimes Confused for White Clover

Many types of clover bear only four leaves, so it's necessary to differentiate between these plants and the mutated, four-leaf versions of Trifolium repens. Pepperwort, also called Water Clover, is an example. Its leaves are slightly rounder and are a lighter shade of green. Oxalis bears leaves that are narrow at the base with a reddish starburst center. Three other species, Alsike clover, Buffalo clover and Running Buffalo clover, look similar, too, but they generally are taller plants, and the last type doesn't have white markings on the leaves.

Where It Grows

This plant is native to Europe, as well as West Asia and North Africa, but it has been introduced to many other regions. It grows best in regions where temperatures are at least 68 - 77°F (20 - 25°C), and although it is winter-hardy, it has a low tolerance for drought. The plants thrive in a variety of soil, but they prefer moist clays.

Uses

Most commonly, people use these plants in pastures, letting livestock graze on it. Another common use is for ground cover and soil retention. Many people see it as a weed and don't like that the flowers attract bees, but individuals still use it in lawns because of its ability to tolerate trampling and fix nitrogen to the soil.

Less commonly, white clover is used for eating. All parts are consumable, and people have used it in salads, as garnishes, and in soups, teas and similar dishes. Usually, individuals who eat it cook it for a few minutes first, because this makes the plant easier to digest. Sometimes, the dried flowers are ground and made into flour.

Traditionally, this plant species also has medicinal properties. Individuals have used it for common ailments such as coughs, colds and fevers, and it is also used as a blood and wound cleanser. Occasionally, people include it in ointments for gout treatment, and it also has been made into eyewash.

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Discuss this Article

anon342263
Post 82

I found my very first four-leaf clovers in my yard tonight. I found five 4 leaf clovers.

anon255337
Post 80

So get this. My friend and I are at the park right, and we see clovers. We kept looking and looking until finally, I found one. I was like, "What the crap! Dude! I just found a four-leaf clover!"

anon253035
Post 79

I believe that all the luck comes actually from finding the 4/5/6/7/8/9, etc. leaved clovers.

anon253034
Post 78

By the way, the most leaves on a clover ever recorded is 56, discovered by Shigeo Obara of Hanamaki, Iwate, Japan in 2009.

anon253033
Post 77

I have found patches of clovers where about one in every 20-30 clovers has four leaves.

I believe that 4/5 leaved clovers are more common among certain variations of clovers, for example a lot of my four/five leaved clovers are hart shaped with red dots on them.

I do believe though that that plain green clover, in general, is more common because usually they are the patches I see with every so often small patches of heart shaped clover with red dots on the leaves, and it is in these patches that I usually find about one in 5-10 four-leaf clover and one in 20-30 five-leaf clover.

anon230651
Post 76

I have lived near farmland for the last five years, and in that time I have found about 500-600 four-leaf clovers, about 15 5-leafers and two 6-leaf clovers.

Giving them away has given me much pleasure. Many people are amazed by the findings and I consider myself privileged to have given hope and put a smile on so many faces.

I buy small, pretty picture frames from bootsales and charity shops, which compliment the clover presentation. Laminating them is good for keeping in wallets and purses, and they fit perfectly under a battery in a mobile phone (Which more or less guarantees that you will have it with you at all times!)

anon209273
Post 75

I found five four leaf clovers in the span of about two minutes. I decided to stop there and save possible findings for another day. My five clovers are pressed in a book though. --n.n.

anon166129
Post 74

I've found one four-leaf clover on day one. The next day I found two. Next day, day three, and a workmate of mine found three four-leaf clovers.

All of these days, we were having our lunch break in a park nearby the office. I was highly sceptical that four-leaf clovers are easy to find. Now I'm a "believer".

anon162738
Post 73

i found three four-leaf clovers in 10 minutes in a small patch in my front yard.

anon121308
Post 71

I found two patches. numbering well over in the hundreds. In two days i found about a 1000 four leaf clovers

anon116817
Post 70

a couple years ago back in primary school, there was a four leaf clover patch on the school oval. me and my friends would just hunt for them when we got bored of soccer. there were plenty of 5, 6 and 7 leaf clovers as well. my friend found a 9 leaf clover. however, we came back the next year and because of the drought in australia, it was gone.

anon108069
Post 69

i have found about eighteen four leaf clovers in one day. my kids get so mad at me. lol. i find them in any yard and any time i find them for people who never have. i let them pick them too.

The most surprising time was when my mother in law told me she never found one. well i went and found her one and within ten minutes she was holding one.

anon99681
Post 68

I found a six leaf clover. Is that lucky?

anon96750
Post 67

I am from Maine. and I found three four leaf clovers today, and my husband found one. I also found one at my son's baseball game the other day. is it really good luck or a myth? N and c Daigle

anon93760
Post 66

this is the third month in a row a lucky clover has found me. two four leaflets and one five leaflet -- on the 4th. i never ever look for them. I was at the fourth of july parade and i was picking up candy and there it was -- the five leaflet clover!

anon90580
Post 65

I have always been able to spot four-leaf clovers. Even when briskly walking by for exercise, I glance and sure enough, I stop and pick it. It's nothing for me to find one every one time around my neighborhood. I do not find them to be lucky, but give them away every time.

anon86577
Post 64

Standing outside the hospital panicking to go inside, I found four four-leaf clovers and one five-leaf clover. The receptionist was kind enough to provide a soaked paper towel and plastic baggie.

I arrived at my aunt's house, place the clovers on her table and her enjoying organic and fresh herbs. She leaned in and picked a leaf from the 5 leaf clover to taste. I was stunned, surprised but a priceless moment after the word I called her that I had never said to her before.

Mom giggled and I was still in shock but came out with healthy results. That fifth lucky clover she enjoyed may have saved my life. Every negative has a positive. Kim

anon85875
Post 63

I found a six leaf clover when my grandma was here. she had cancer though, and i wished she would feel better. this was about a month ago. When she had to move out because it was too loud, the clover disappeared. i was upset. but i just found nine four leaf clovers! And i have a very unlucky life, or at least i thought so!

anon84035
Post 62

I'm a junior in high school and have never found a four leaf clover. today we were doing an assignment and I found a five leaf clover.

Prom is coming up and my car needs fixed. I hope I've found my luck.

angelbill
Post 61

I'm an Italian and Irish girl and have been finding four leaf clovers my whole life. Three days ago, i just found 27 four-leaf and three five-leaf. Lucky? You'd better believe it! bury one in a nice place that you like, walk around it three times, while repeating your wish, "clockwise" and your wish will come true! Works every time. Good uck! anon

anon82011
Post 59

well one day i was looking for clovers and suddenly i see a five leaf clover! can you believe that!

anon81457
Post 58

four-leaf clovers have always been a part of my life. I always just happen across them not really looking.

I loved to hear my grandmother brag to others about my ability to always find them so easily. I never have won the lottery or anything but when I was young I would make wishes on my four-leaf clovers to get me out of trouble or to get gifts I really wanted, and it would work!

When my husband and I moved to a new house I didn't quite like, I wasn't really sure if this is where we should settle down, until one day I went in the back yard and found three four-leaf clovers in a little patch. I took that as a sign this is where we should be.

Nine years and a few kids later, we are quite happy where we are and our little patch producing four-leaf clovers has gotten larger. I have found 18 this spring so far and today among the clovers I found, one was a six leaf.

My oldest daughter has just started her own four-leaf collection. She can be anywhere and not really looking and find a four-leaf clover. Just like her momma!

anon80509
Post 57

Somehow i always manage to find four leaf clovers I've found at least 200. I find a fun four leaf clover quote and then tape it on my neighbor's door with the quote because they've never found one. does anyone else have a tradition like that?

The most I've found is nine leaves. what's the record?

anon80109
Post 56

i found a five leaf clover my senior year in high school. i carried it in my wallet for 26 years. i believe i felt luckier knowing it was with me but i never had really great luck. today i just found one four and one six leafer. I'm buying lotto tickets just on a hunch!

anon78009
Post 55

i found 29 four-leaf clovers yesterday and six five-leafs and four six-leafs and one seven-leaf, and i just found nine four-leafs and two five-leafs today, all in my back yard.

I saw a ton more in the same place. Are five and six-leaf clovers really bad luck or are they good luck as well?

anon77814
Post 54

Despite what many think, four leaf and five leaf clovers are some of the rarest plants in existence.

What many have found are actually mutated weeds rather that actual clovers. The only way to tell is to do a DNA scan with the clovers. So, if you think you have found clovers with more than 3 leaves, try and take it to a science lab. They can approve or deny your claims. So try hard, and good luck!

anon76887
Post 53

So you say it's a mutation, responder 52. So what? You're not bursting any bubbles. Everything living is a mutation from something before it. That doesn't mean it's not special. In fact, it does make it more unique.

anon76425
Post 52

I have found numerous 4 leaf clovers in my life. Some of my acquaintances have never found one. Someone told me years ago that a 5-leaf clover is bad luck. I found one four leaf clover so big, I put it in an 8x12 picture frame.

anon75875
Post 51

Whatever. Four leaf clovers are a mutation: 1 in 10,000. What you have are weeds. Sorry to burst your bubble!

anon75134
Post 50

was out in my front yard looking for four-leaf clovers and found a six leaf clover. how common are they?

anon74586
Post 49

last summer i found a lot of 4 leaf clovers that were trifolium repens and two 5 leaf clovers.

I lost the two five leaf clovers last year and i haven't had very good luck, but yesterday i found four 4 leaf clovers and today i found about 10 and one 5 leaf, all of trifolium repens and i saw a falling star night before last and made my wish.

I sure hope that wish comes true about the falling star and finding all these clovers i have found.

anon71658
Post 48

I remember on Sally Star's kiddie show in the 60s someone sent in a patch of four-leaf clovers loaded with them in a one by one foot square.

Is this rare to find a bunch of them like that?

anon71256
Post 47

Where can i find a four leaf clover?

anon71149
Post 46

I am an Irish colleen and have found hundreds of four-leaf clovers in my time. People always ask how it is I find them so easily. My reply is that I look down and they look up!

anon71103
Post 45

When my horse was alive i would find anywhere from 3-10 four-leaf clovers daily in the 20 minutes it took him to eat. I never actually looked for them; i just could scoop them up when i was walking through the field. It is one of those freaky family traits that runs in my family. My grandmother did it all the time. We keep all of her clovers and mine in her old bible.

anon71015
Post 44

When in Dublin, an Irish man told me the fourth leaf on a clover is called "The Devil's Leaf." Since the three-leaf clover was used by St. Patrick to explain the Trinity to the pagan king of the land, adding another leaf was not considered lucky.

anon63061
Post 43

i have found over 200 four-leaf clovers in my neighborhood in one summer.

anon61814
Post 42

My experience is that four leaf clovers are more common where the plant is stressed. For instance, along a walk o blacktop path, i will find more up close to the edge than back farther.

And in our back yard the most prolific spot is an east-facing slope where the clever is warmed by the morning sun.

I don't know if red clover four leaves are rarer, but it is fun to find a much bigger specimen than a white clover.

My experience is that if you find one, you are apt to find two--if not then, then later when new leaves have budded.

anon59424
Post 41

I found a 4-leaf clover in this park which had a ton of clover patches. I found it about 20 minutes in and I ended up standing on it.

anon57848
Post 40

If I can find just one,I'll just tape it(to prevent rotting) to a card and make a bookmark! I'm gonna make my friends jealous =]. I really hope I can find a few during the holidays. Happy Hunting. I'm going yo try and find one in the lawn near my flat's void deck. =]

anon54141
Post 39

A few months ago just walked beside of our garage, I found one four-leaf clover, I think that's luck for me because most of the time when i buy scratch lottery tickets i win something. then one month after, i won $35,000 in a summer promo lottery. -anon256

anon47335
Post 38

I found nine today as i walked through the park.

anon47164
Post 37

i have over 1000 four and five leaf clovers. no lie.

anon41064
Post 36

i found 20 4-leaf and three 5-leaf and i'm only 12 and all in one patch in our yard! within 3 days!

anon41044
Post 35

I have just found my first four leaf clover, in my garden while playing with my pet dog. i'm landed! might lose my job soon because of the recession, and my wife's car is on it's way out, so i hope it does bring us some luck!

anon39564
Post 34

I have been finding 4 leaf clovers my whole life. Growing up, my parents' fridge was covered in them, some I pressed, some I stuck to cards. I have found over 3000 in my life all over the world in random places, never looked for them. We have been living in our new house over three months, and I have found 37 since being here, including 2 today while weeding!

anon39536
Post 33

Has anyone heard of four leaf clovers being *bad* luck, or at least, as an omen of something bad that's going to happen soon? I've always found four (5,6,7 as well) with ease. But, as I got older, I realized that if I found a lot of 4+ leaf clovers at once, something bad usually happened to me afterwards. Or, maybe they protect me from something even worse? I don't know but after a couple of really bad personal events, I now avert my eyes around any clover patches!

anon38815
Post 32

Iv'e been finding 4,5,6,7,8 leaf clover since I was a child. I survived pancreatic cancer, a pulmonary embolism, staph infection, and just recently got hired on with the state of oregon and was hired on friday the 13th, but I should add that I found a horseshoe too while hiking on the mountain. yes they are lucky. trust me. happy hunting!

webzard
Post 31

Finding a four leaf clover is a lot like fishing. It's a combination of luck and skill -- both have to be working to be most fruitful.

Four leaf clover is closest to a universal good luck charm. It is documented throughout many different cultures and religions.

anon38454
Post 30

Isn't it fun to find and pick them? My friends can't believe how often I am walking - anywhere - and spy them. Baseball games, at the park, or just out on a brisk walk. I've found several six-leafs, several five-leafs (including two this week), and hundreds upon hundreds of four-leafs. At any given time in the summer, I have a dish of them on my kitchen table. If I find them in my own yard, I tie curling ribbon around them so others can pick them. How much "luck" can one gal need anyway? The most I picked in one day this summer was 15, but I picked 9 the day before that. I've never found a 7 or a 9 leaf. What does thte sixth leaf mean? Seventh? etc.? Does anyone know?

anon37873
Post 29

OOh!!! i may not be that lucky to find that many lucky leaf clovers but I did find one four leaf clover.

anon37609
Post 28

I was just walking around outside and found six four leaf clovers in the same small patch. Is there a different meaning or interpretation for finding many beside each other?

anon36677
Post 27

So did anyone get lucky with their four leaf clover good luck charms?

anon33862
Post 26

I am always trying to find a four leaf to give happiness and luck, but in my garden i only find 3 leaf. Where can i find a four leaf?

anon32910
Post 24

i have found over at least 5,000... i think. i didn't count. you see, i've been able to find them from when i was in pre-school. i've found 2 8 leaf clovers in my life. i find four leafs, five leafs, six leafs.

anon32827
Post 23

i have found in all about ??? (maybe 60+) 4 leaf,

5-6 5-leaf and 3 6-leaf! true!!

anon28497
Post 22

dmj1 - if it's a true clover w/ more than 18 leaves, you've got a Guinness World Record holder on your hands. They've had unofficial claims go to 27 leaves on a single clover so if your 40+ leaf is true - it'd be real cool for all of us to see.

anon28483
Post 21

Over the years I have found a great deal of 4, 5, 6, and 7 leaf clovers. Just today, St. Paddy's Day, I was on my lunch break at work and found over a dozen 4 leaf clovers and passed them around the office. The patch I picked them from has many more that I left for others to find. When I went back out to the patch of "good luck" clovers, I found a 6 leaf. I personally don't think the chances are as small as most would assume, but it could just be...the "luck o' the Irish".

anon27581
Post 20

i have about 698 four leaf clovers and 90 four leaf shamrocks. i have found them all in about a week but, i have given a lot of them away as gifts. none of my friends have none, so i gave each of them a collection of their own. what's the world record of finding these?

anon26697
Post 19

I have only recently found fresh (growing) four leaf clovers; up to now I did have a knack for finding antique four leaf clovers pressed between the pages of old, used or antique books... many still looking pretty green and nice (though very delicate) after having been pressed there for many years. Some were in first edition books from the late 1800's and early 1900's so I am guessing they are possibly 100 years old or so. I have found five this way.

anon19838
Post 18

I've found a lot of four-leaf clovers, but some jerk stole two of them and is pretending that its hers! I've managed to get one of them back from her, but her other one is at home. All of the sudden, I've been having rotten luck and can't find any more. How come she doesn't get bad luck?

anon19821
Post 17

ive never found one before =[

anon19740
Post 16

In my life time i have found most likely more than 500 for leaf clovers. They always go missing even after putting them in safe places and i say leprechauns stole them. Today i found three 6 leaf clovers and 3 5-leaf clovers. I doubt that only 1 in 10,000 plants have them since most plants i've seen have had at least 1.

anon19585
Post 15

hey, i've always talked about wanting to find a 4 leaf clover, and went through a phase of trying to look for one. eventually i gave up - even after just saying "its impossible" i was walking by looked down and found one!

No one i know of in person has ever found one before, and of course were all impressed with my find.

3 days later the same thing happened! i found another in a completely different place! (might i add both of these were found in/around patches of 3 leafs) and a month later i was casually walking by another area, glanced down in a 3 leaf patch and found a 5 leaf clover!

after reading these other posts, i see that finding 4 and 5 leaf clovers is not too rare - but also that they seem to come in bulk in mutated patches... so for my own contentment i like to think finding my 3 in patches of 3 leafs might be a little bit more impressive =]

anon18797
Post 14

Hello today i was at school and i was at recess and i found a six leaf clover and about a year ago i found a for leafer can you tell me what i should with these beautiful treasures?

anon16139
Post 13

For what it's worth, I found a patch of clover in front of the place I work and have picked 654 four-leafers from it this summer.

Inua
Post 12

Hello! I find about 20-30 4,5,6,and 7 leaf clovers daily on my way to the paper. Any one know whom has found the most multi leaved clovers to date? I have about 400 or so. The most leaves I have found is only 9. Some lucky guy from Japan has registered a 19 leaf clover as the World Record, So to the comment poster (dmj1) with 47- dang buddy, get it looked at.

anon12508
Post 11

ekornel, I found a patch like that just yesterday. My classes were out for the day and I wanted to enjoy some time outside, so I went four-leaf clover hunting. I found a patch by my dorm, and picked almost 40 (I haven't counted them yet) four-, five-, and six-leaf clover in less than 20 minutes, including several very large, beautiful ones. I would have stayed out longer and probably found more, but I needed to go in and study for a test.

jkkuhns
Post 10

I have found a company that sells the trifolium repens plants that are discussed in this article. These plants produce more four leaf clovers than they would in nature. They even sometimes produce five and six leaf clovers. Their plants are grown in Irish Soil to give you true "Luck 'O the Irish".

anon10324
Post 9

i have found two six leaf clovers and several five leafed clovers as well as lots of four leafed clovers. about 80 all together although only 64 remain as some have been given away and sold. all but 3 were found in the same place which now has no more 'multi leafed clovers' left.

anon5640
Post 8

For all you people who found 5 leaf clovers, you should know that is very bad luck if you find a 5 leaf clover. You must give it away and good luck will fall on both of you. P.S. If you give a 4 leaf clover away that is bad luck also.

dmj1
Post 7

In my back garden i found a 10 leaf clover! i've found lots of 4, 5, and 6 ones and they all seem to grow in the same place. I was telling a friend who didn't believe me, so i showed him the area and within 2 minutes to our utter amazement we found a 47 leaf clover! it was just one big mass, anyway i carefully removed it from the ground and put it in the freezer. I'm wondering if this one is a world record.

anon4170
Post 6

the legend says: one for hope, one for faith, one for love and one for luck. They say that the fifth is for money, I just found a 5 leaf and I keep it tucked in my wallet next to my ID and ATM card, so uh... I hope it's working!

anon4168
Post 5

Hi,

I have found in my yard recently 2 six leaf clovers and 3 five leaf clovers. Does any one if these bring you good luck or the significance of these are?

ekornel
Post 4

I have yet to find a six leaf clover and I imagine they are probably less than 1 in 100,000. I very much enjoy giving friends four-leafs. Yesterday I was at a backyard barbecue 1st birthday party for a close friend's first child. Several of us were strolling in the grass and I was looking down at a clover patch. They said it must be very hard to find four-leaf clovers as none of them had ever seen one. I looked down and saw one immediately and gave it to the birthday boys grandparents to press and laminate. Hopefully, it's especially good luck on his first birthday.

anon2993
Post 3

Hi. I recently found a patch of white clover located at the front of my house by the road. Every day for the past two weeks I look down and find 2 or 3 four leaf clovers. I am usually not one to look for four leaf clovers and was really taken by being able to just look down without much time and find them. Now, every day when I go to retrieve the paper I look down to find four leaf clovers. I even give them to neighbors who happen to be outside at the time. I hope the luck stills extends to the people even though they did not find them by themselves.

ekornel
Post 2

On Friday the 13th my young friend asked me how I manage to find four leaf clovers on a regular basis. I told her you simply have to look for them. I then looked down at a patch of clover in front of us in the grass around a pool in Brewster, MA and saw a five leaf clover (which I have found before on a couple of occasions.) My friend then looked down and found a four leaf clover and then I looked more closely at the patch and interspersed among the three-leafs we found and picked 43 four leaf clovers and 4 five leaf clovers. Has anyone found a patch of this size before that was not cloned or otherwise engineered?

anon1055
Post 1

We have a lot of clover on our property and I sometimes look for the lucky 4 leaf ones. I almost always find one or two while the others with me find none. Today I found two 4 leaf clovers and one SIX leaf clover. At first I though it was two clovers stuck together but it wasn't. I have heard of 9 leaf clovers but was wondering how uncommon a six leaf clover is.

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