How to Find a Four-Leaf Clover

Are you feeling lucky? These 15 fun facts can help you find your own four-leaf clover.
Four-Leaf Clover

Four-Leaf Clover

The odds of finding a four-leaf clover are one in ten thousand.

The odds of finding a four-leaf clover are one in ten thousand.

Four-leaf clovers are an accepted symbol of good luck around the world throughout the year. But the four-leaf clover's association with Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day is steeped in rich tradition. How much do you know about the legend of this uncommon clover? Check out these facts about the talisman of good fortune and learn how to find one for yourself.

  • A three-leaf clover is also called a shamrock, from the Irish word seamróg, meaning “little clover.”
  • The shamrock is a registered trademark of the Irish government.
  • Four-leaf clovers are a mutation of the typically three-leaf white clover and occur in approximately one in ten thousand clovers.
  • There are over three hundred species of clover, but white clover (Trifolium repens) is widely considered the true clover of good fortune.
  • White clover (also known as Dutch Clover) is native to Europe, North Africa and West Asia, but is now grown around the world as a groundcover or pasture crop for livestock.
  • St. Patrick is said to have used the shamrock to illustrate the Holy Trinity, with the leaves of the three-leaf clover representing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. A fourth leaf came to represent God’s Grace.
  • Celtic legend ascribes the three leaves of a shamrock to represent faith, hope and love. A fourth, of course, represents luck.
  • Clover mutations can produce even more than four leaves, although the rarity increases.
  • The odds of finding a five-leaf clover are one in a million.
  • According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the most leaves found on a clover was 56, discovered in Japan in 2009.
  • Napoleon was allegedly saved from a fatal bullet when he leaned over to inspect a four-leaf clover.
  • Abraham Lincoln wasn’t so lucky. It is said Lincoln frequently carried a four-leaf clover, but left it behind when heading off to an evening at Ford’s Theatre.
  • Ancient Druids carried clover to ward off evil spirits.
  • In Ireland, four-leaf clovers are sometimes included in wedding bouquets to ensure good fortune in marriage.
  • Four-leaf clovers may become less rare. In 2010, scientists at the University of Georgia isolated the gene that causes the “lucky” mutation.

Want to bring a bit of good luck into your life this St. Patrick’s Day? Despite the odds, it may not be as difficult as you think. In a dense patch of white clover, a four-leafer lurks in an area of less than fifteen square feet (on average). Find a thick patch and slowly brush your hand over the surface. The center of a four-leaf clover has a different shape and the fourth leaf is often smaller than the others. These anomalies will naturally register the eye’s attention. Gradually widen your search until you get “lucky.”

Once you’ve found one, keep looking! The mutation found in four-leaf clovers exist in the roots and the likelihood of finding others in the same space drastically increases. The most four-leaf clovers found by an individual is over 111,000 in a period of fifteen years. No word on his lottery winnings.

And remember—to find a four-leaf clover is lucky, but give it to a friend and your luck is doubled.

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