The Four Leaf Clover

The four leaf clover is a popular charm. It is a symbol of luck in many countries but is perhaps most associated with Ireland where it is traditionally connected with the fairy folk. It is also said that a four leaf clover was the original Irish shamrock - this is unlikely as the word "shamrock" derives from seamrog which simply means "little clover"and could apply to any number of plants.

What Is A Four Leaf Clover?

There are a number of very similar plants that resemble clover and are easily confused. The "official" four leaf clover is from the White Clover plant Trifolium repens; as the name suggests this usually has only three leaves. Other similar plants include Water Clover (Marsilea Quadrifolia) and Oxalis (Oxalis triphylla). As can be guessed from the names, four leaf examples of these are not uncommon.

Why Is The Four Leaf Cover Lucky?

There's no obvious reason why the four leaf clover should be considered lucky except for its scarcity. Anything strange and unusual tends to be creditied with special meaning. Some experts have estimated that only one white clover leaf in 10,000 has four leaves.

The leaves of the clover are sometimes associated with various gifts, for example Faith, Hope and Love. The fourth leaf - which is usually smaller - is Luck. In the Christian tradition the first three leaves are sometimes associated with the Holy Trinity, the fourth being God's grace.

It's not clear why some clovers develop four leaves and not others. It could be partly due to genetic or environmental factors. This is supported by the fact that four leaved clovers tend to be found together in patches. In earlier times it was said that these areas where four leaved clovers were abundant were places of power associated with the fey.


Today you can buy four leaf clovers by mail order, some of which are specially bred. The plant can also be incorporated into products such as cards, keyrings, jewelry and other stuff. Some even go as far as having a picture of one as a tattoo.

How such a plant compares in the luck department to one found growing wild is not known. But then as far as I know noone has yet scientifically tested the "luck factor" of a wild four leaf clover.