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What Is a Four Leaf Clover?

A four leaf clover is a mutation of the common three leaf clover plant. The three leaf clover or white clover (scientific name Trifolium repens) is a flowering vine with a distinctive deep green coloration. The name white clover is taken from the white blossoms that the plant produces. The white clover is considered the original shamrock plant of Ireland and is also the acknowledged state symbol of the country. By tradition, the shamrock already possesses strong associations, thus a four leaf clover is considered as especially fortuitous.

The white clover’s three leaves have been associated with the Trinity – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. According to folklore, the extra leaf of the four leaf clover stands for God’s grace. For those who wish to interpret it in less dogmatic ways, the leaves stand for Faith, Hope, Love and for the fourth leaf – Luck. According to folklore, people who find a four leaf clover will become lucky. Others believe the person will also see fairies and plant sprites.

According to a breeder of white clovers, only 1 in 10,000 plants will mutate naturally and turn into a four leaf clover. Some of the factors that produce this mutation include natural environmental stresses. What is rarer is a plant that mutates fairly regularly, continuing to produce four leaf clovers. Through new sciences like cloning and hydroponics, some breeders have been able to produce four leaf clovers at a increased ratio of 1 in 41 plants. There is much debate whether an “artificially” created four leaf clover is still considered a lucky charm.

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