Source: Garden Weasel
Sure, four-leaf clovers are everywhere come St. Patrick’s Day, but did you know they first appeared in centuries-old Druid legends as symbols of good luck? In the very early days of Ireland, Celtic priests believed that when carrying a three-leaf clover or shamrock, they could detect evil spirits and be able to escape before encountering one. Four-leaf clovers were magical Celtic charms, said to ward off bad luck. It’s often said that Ireland grows more four-leaf clovers than anywhere else, leading to the famous expression ‘luck of the Irish’.
Children in the Middle Ages believed they would be able to see fairies if they carried a four-leaf clover. In 1620, Sir John Melton made the first literary reference to clovers bringing good luck. Speaking of good luck, you’re going to need some if you hope to gather a few shamrocks for your collection, because for every ‘lucky’ four-leaf clover, about 10,000 three-leaf clovers sprout.
If you do stumble upon one, here are some fun facts about four-leaf clovers to go along with your newfound luck:
- The leaves of four-leaf clovers are said to stand for faith, hope, love, and luck.
- The plant’s Latin name is Trifolium repens, or white clover.
- The fourth leaf might be smaller and of a different shade than the other three.
- Want to share your luck? It is said that if you pass along your four-leaf clover, your luck will double.
- Abraham Lincoln always carried his lucky four-leaf clover, but reportedly forgot it at home the night he was assassinated.
- Watch out for imposters! Some plants, such as wood sorrel (Oxalis tetraphylla) and Pepperwort or Water Clover (Marsilea quadrifolia) are sometimes sold as four-leaf clovers.
- The word shamrock comes from the Irish word seamrog, which means ‘little clover’.
- Want to grow you own luck? You can sow packaged seeds in small pots. The trick is putting them into the refrigerator for 24 hours first, so the seeds think they’ve just been through winter. Use moist, well-drained soil mix, and water sparingly. Keep pots in a sunny spot and seeds will germinate in a few days. Two leaves will appear at first, but don’t worry – a third (and who knows, maybe a lucky fourth!) will sprout soon!
- Tiny shamrocks fold up their leaves before they go to sleep at night, and will produce a yellow flower about two months after germination.
- Shamrocks don’t like roommates, so don’t plant them with other houseplants in the same container.