How Much Do You Know About Four-Leafed Clovers? (2024)

Lucky clovers are popular good-luck charms. With a little luck and a lot of patience, you can find them in nearly any meadow or backyard. Clover hunting is easy enough for young children to do, but challenging enough that older kids and adults won't be bored. When you're done, you can press your four-leaf clovers and use them to remind yourself how lucky you are.

If you want to get fired up before your next clover hunt, check out this playlist of lucky songs.

Here are 11 fascinating facts about lucky clovers. How many of them do you already know?

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Many Clover-Like Plants Have Four Leaves, But Aren't Lucky Clovers

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Lucky clovers are a four-leafed variety of white clover, also known asTrifolium repens. "Trifolium" literally means three-leafed, which shows how rare the four-leafed variety is. That means that other kinds of clover, as well as any plants that always have four leaves, are not lucky clovers.

Many other plants, including Pepperwort, Water Clover, and Oxalis (also known as Burgundy Shamrock), are marketed as lucky clovers due to their strong resemblance. Though they are not genuine luck-bringers, if you enjoy them, feel free to use them. They're beautiful plants and a pleasure to have around!

One way to be sure you have a true four-leafed clover is to check if the leaves are all the same size. If so, you're out of luck. True lucky clovers have three leaves that are the same and one that's slightly smaller.

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Why Are Four-Leafed Clovers Lucky, Anyway?

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There are many different theories about the origin of the lucky clover superstition. Some legends say that the four leaves stand for faith, hope, love, and luck. Others say that four-leaf clovers granted the power to see fairies, or that they're lucky because St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the trinity to the Irish.

Of course, it's also possible that four-leafed clovers are lucky simply because they are rare enough to be unusual, but not so rare that they're impossible to find.

Difference Between Shamrocks and Four-Leafed Clovers

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So you've heard about the "luck of the Irish" and seen plenty of leprechauns with shamrocks on St. Patrick's Day, so it's easy to think that shamrocks and four-leaf clovers are the same... but they're not.

Shamrocks are your standard three-leafed clovers. They're associated with Ireland due to the legend that St. Patrick used shamrocks to illustrate how God could be both one entity and three at the same time.

Some people say that the four-leafed clover adds God's grace to the metaphor of the Holy Trinity. But no matter what, a shamrock only properly refers to a clover plant with three leaves.

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The Fourth Leaf Is Caused by a Genetic Mutation. Probably.

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Given that white clovers are specifically defined by having three leaves, it's strange that any are lucky. Why do some clovers have four leaves, anyway?

Like blond hair, blue eyes, and straight hair in humans, the four-leafed clover is a recessive trait in the white clover plant. That means that, for a stem to have four leaves, it must have inherited the recessive trait from both of its "parents."

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But Nailing Down the Exact Genetic Mutation Is Surprisingly Hard

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Given how much progress humanity has made in identifying the effects of genes on our own make-up, you'd think it would be easy to figure out why some white clovers have three leaves and others four. However, it's surprisingly difficult.

Wired has a fascinating article about why the genetic makeup of clover is so weird.

To start with, clover has twice as many chromosomes as humans and most other creatures. As Wired puts it:

"...white clover has double the amount of chromosomes as humans, mangoes, pill bugs, and most other organisms...each pair of the white clover’s chromosomes comes from a different species."


While it's hard to narrow down which mutation causes some white clovers to sprout four leaves, scientists are making progress in figuring it out. Along the way, their research is yielding interesting information, such as which conditions encourage four-leafed mutations.

Some (Four-Leafed Clovers) Like It Hot

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One of the things that scientists have discovered by studying the gene mutation that causes clovers to grow four leaves is that warm weather tends to encourage the lucky four-leaf mutation.

If you're hoping to find yourself a lucky charm, searching in summertime or in warm climates can improve your odds.

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And They're Pretty Social, Too

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While you're anthropomorphizing lucky clover by making them lucky, you can also remind yourself that they like to hang out with their friends. In other words, if you find one four-leaf clover, immediately look around for more.

The reason isn't actually because clover is a social plant, but because if one plant has the lucky mutation, more of its stems might bear four leaves.

So if you're searching for clovers, multiply your luck by looking more intensely anywhere you find a single four-leafed clover.

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The Odds of Finding a Four-Leafed Clover Are Long... But Not Too Long

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So what are your odds of "looking over a four-leafed clover," as the song goes? Approximately one in 10,000 clover stems will have a four-leafed mutation.

That might sound daunting, but according to the Minitab Blog, it's actually not that rare. If you are in a field full of clover, you can find that many plants in a three-by-four-foot area. So you don't need a crazy number of plants to have good odds of finding lucky clovers.

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The Scientifically-Proven Way to Find More Four-Leafed Clovers

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If you try to check 10,000 individual leaves to see if one of them is a lucky clover, you'll waste a lot of time and energy. Luckily, there's a better way.

Let your eyesscan a limited area (an area about the size of an office desk works well, according to Scientific American). Don't try to look for individual leaves, just try to see if something stands out as looking a little bit different from the surrounding clover.

If that doesn't work for you right away, try using your shoe to gently brush over the clover, and see if turning the plants to a different angle gives you a better perspective.

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Lucky Clovers Can Have More than Four Leaves!

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The mutation that causes more leaves to grow in some white clover plants most commonly results in four-leaf clovers. But sometimes, you end up with even more leaves, which is supposed to be even luckier.

For example, six-leafed clovers are supposed to bring faith, hope, love, extra luck, money, and good fortune.

But even six leaves is just a start. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the white clover with the most leaves ever recorded was found byShigeo Obara of Japan. In 2009, Shigeo Obara found a single white clover with a whopping 56 leaflets!

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Tempted to Grow Your Own Lucky Clovers?

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If you think that cultivating lucky clovers is easier than finding them in a field, wait a second. Although there are many lucky clover kits available to buy, in most (or all) cases, all you're paying for is a batch of plain white clover seeds. The plants that grow from those seeds may or may not have the recessive gene that will result in four-leafed clovers.

So while it might be fun to give it a try (and you may well end up with the lucky clovers you desire), you should be aware that you might also end up with a standard whiteclover in a pot.

You can achieve the same goal and save some money while you're at it by buying regular clover seeds not marketed to luck-seekers.

How Much Do You Know About Four-Leafed Clovers? (2024)

FAQs

What are the odds of finding a four-leafed clover? ›

According to The Weather Network, a four-leaf clover is rare, and difficult to find. A quick Google search said the odds are 1 in 10,000, but a 2017 study says chances are much better, with a 1 in 5,000 chance. Inside Science also reported 1 in 10,000 odds.

Is there a trick to finding 4 leaf clovers? ›

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.

What do they say about four-leaf clovers? ›

The leaves of four-leaf clovers are said to stand for faith, hope, love, and luck. It's often said that Ireland is home to more four-leaf clovers than any other place, giving meaning to the phrase “the luck of the Irish.” If you're lucky enough to find a four-leaf clover, look for more!

How often do people find 4 leaf clovers? ›

They tell stories about finding the rare clovers in minutes. Four-leaf clovers reportedly only occur in 1 out of every 10,000 clovers.

Which is rarer 4 or 5 leaf clover? ›

It's estimated that you have a 1 in 100,000 chance of finding a five-leaf clover, compared to a 1 in 10,000 chance of finding a four-leaf clover.

Which is rarer 3 or 4 leaf clover? ›

Occurrence. A 2017 survey of approximately 5.7 million clovers in central Europe found the frequency of 4-leaf clovers to be about 5000 to 1 (one 4-leaf clover for every ~5000 normal 3-leaf clovers), twice the commonly stated probability of 10,000 to 1.

Where is the best place to find 4 leaf clover? ›

Walk around areas with a lot of leaves and trees, like parks and trials, to seek out clover patches. If you have a backyard, look there as well. Clovers often grow in lawns.

What is the most 4-leaf clovers found in one day? ›

Gabriella Gerhardt, a clover collector who already holds the records for largest number of four-leaf clovers collected in eight hours, 887, and most four-leaf clovers collected in one hour, 451, brought her entire collection to the Fitchburg Public Library on Saturday to be counted by a team of 21 witnesses.

How rare is a 6 leaf clover? ›

There is a one-in-24,390 chance of finding a five-leaf clover, and a one-in-312,500 chance of coming across a six-leaf clover, it claims. Want to do your own hunting for lucky clovers? You won't need a ton of space to get started.

What does 🍀 mean in love? ›

are: loyalty, love, luck and hope for the last. 🍀 Wear this lovely multiway (can be worn may ways)

What does each leaf mean in 🍀? ›

According to pagan legends, each leaf has a meaning. The first would bring fame, the second leaf would bring us wealth, the third love, and the fourth health. But in the Christian and Catholic tradition each leaf corresponds rather to a virtue.

Are you lucky if you find a four-leaf clover? ›

According to Parade.com, Four-leaf clovers are considered lucky for their rarity. In the Middle Ages, it was believed by some Celtic groups that wielding a four-leaf clover would help you see fairies, as well as to ward off evil spirits and grant the holder good luck.

What is the meaning of ☘? ›

The Shamrock emoji ☘️ depicts a three-leafed sprig of the shamrock plant. As the shamrock is the national emblem of Ireland, the Shamrock emoji ☘️ is widely used in association with Irish culture, identity, and heritage, especially on St. Patrick's day each year on March 17.

What is the luckiest clover? ›

The four-leafed clover, or “lucky clover”, is an uncommon variation of the three-leafed clover, and widely considered to be a symbol of good luck. Because they are a mutation, they are rare, and not found in the same abundance as the shamrock, and thus, considered lucky.

Do 5 leaf clovers exist? ›

The five-leaf clover is the rarest of these variants. Surprisingly, the odds of finding a five-leaf clover are one in a million for new finders. However, others believe that collectors have a one in 20,000 chance of finding the treasure.

How rare is the 5 leaf clover? ›

How rare are 5 leaf clovers? The five-leaf clover is the rarest of these variants. Surprisingly, the odds of finding a five-leaf clover are one in a million for new finders. However, others believe that collectors have a one in 20,000 chance of finding the treasure.

What is the probability of finding a 5 leaf clover? ›

The estimated statistical odds of finding a four-leaf clover on your first try is 10,000 to 1, and the odds skyrocket to 1,000,000 to 1 if you're looking to find a five-leaf clover on your first try. (The majority of the clovers you see outside have only three leaves.)

What's more lucky 3 or 4 leaf clover? ›

A fourth leaf is where we get the luck from. The four-leafed clover, or “lucky clover”, is an uncommon variation of the three-leafed clover, and widely considered to be a symbol of good luck. Because they are a mutation, they are rare, and not found in the same abundance as the shamrock, and thus, considered lucky.

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