MadSci Network: Botany

Re: how common is a five leaf clover?

Date: Thu Mar 16 19:41:58 2000
Posted By: David Hershey, Faculty, Botany, NA
Area of science: Botany
ID: 953083120.Bt

This is a good question for Saint Patrick's Day. The Irish shamrock is thought 
by many authorities to be white clover (Trifolium repens), which has mostly 
leaves with three leaflets. Botanically, a four leaf clover is actually a four 
leaflet clover because it is a single leaf with four leaflets. Several 
companies sell four leaf clovers as lucky charms or cover them with gold to 
make jewelry. Park Seed Company sells plants of a Red Four-Leaf Clover (Triflorum repens 'Atropurpureum').  
Another company sells seeds of a four leaf clover with up to 39% of 
the leaves with four leaflets.

A four leaf clover is a natural mutation. It occurs rarely enough that finding 
one is considered good luck. By selection and breeding, clover plants have been 
obtained that produce a high percentage of four leaf clovers. The same could 
probably be done for five leaf clovers, if they were commercially valuable. A 

company that sells four leaf clovers claims that it has plants that produce 
occasional four and five leaf clovers. Five leaf clovers are rarer than four 
leaf ones but not that rare. I'm not sure anyone has measured the percentage of 
four or five leaf clovers under natural conditions. If you had the time and 
patience, you could count how many three leaf clovers you have for every four 
or five leaf clover. 


White Clover

White Clover Photos

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