Universally regarded as a symbol of good fortune (in reality, a horticultural anomaly), the four-leaf clover is often thought to represent “the luck of the Irish.” But that’s a bit of blarney. The shamrock, or seamrog in Gaelic (meaning “young clover”), is the national plant of the Emerald Isle, but it has only three leaves. And there isn’t just one type. Many types of clover are considered shamrocks. Test your trivia skills over a pint of green beer on St. Patrick’s Day!
The four-leaf clover achieved “lucky” status because the ancient Celtic druids viewed it as a sign of good luck.
According to legend, during the fifth century, Saint Patrick used the shamrock to teach the Celts about the Holy Trinity. The three leaves attached to a single stem represented the unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in one god. If Saint Patrick came across a four-leaf clover, he used the extra leaf to represent “God’s grace.”
In 1907 a three-leaf clover became the symbol of rural youth clubs across the United States, with each leaf representing one H-for head, heart, and hands. Two years later, the emblem was upgraded to four leaves and H’s, the last represented health. By 1924 these clubs had united and became widely known as 4-H, an organization devoted to teaching leadership, citizenship, and life skills to youth in urban, suburban, and rural areas.
The most leaves on a clover stem are 56 and was discovered by Shigeo Obara of Hanamaki City, Iwate, Japan, on 10 May 2009 setting a Guinness World Record.
Even luckier, in 2006, on the Kenai Peninsula, in Alaska, Ed Martin Sr. of Cooper Landing holds the record for the largest collection with 111,060 four-leaf clovers, as of May 2007. He has been collecting since 1999.
The world record for the number collected of four-leaf clovers in one hour is 166, set by American Katie Borka on June 23, 2018.
One superstition holds that if an unmarried woman finds a four-leaf clover and eats it, she will soon meet her husband.