With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, the image that comes to my mind beside a leprechaun and Ireland’s patron saint, St. Patrick, is the green shamrock.
How many of you know the difference between a shamrock species of clover and the four-leaf kind? “Clover” is a generic term that refers to trefoils, or any of the 300 species that belong to the Trifolium family. These plants have leaves that are separated into three leaflets, but you may find four-leaf, five-leaf or even six-leaf clovers as a genetic abnormality.
“Shamrock,” on the other hand, comes from the Irish word, “seamrog,” and means “little plant.” It refers to the white clover species or the suckling clover species. Although a real shamrock only has three leaves, that doesn’t mean it’s not lucky. In Irish folklore, the number three is considered very lucky.
Saint Patrick is said to have used the shamrock as a metaphor for the Christian Holy Trinity. It has been used as a symbol of Ireland since the 18th century and is registered as a trademark by the Government of Ireland.
So, remember, shamrocks are clovers, but not all clovers are shamrocks.
Around our house in North Carolina grew large patches of clover and I loved to search for ones with four-leaves. Over time I had collected a few and still have a couple pressed between plastic. Did they bring me luck? Who knows, but like finding pretty sea shells on our Florida beaches, I enjoyed the challenge of the hunt!
Scientific studies have said that the odds of finding a single four-leaf clover is about one in 10,000. However, when further analyzed, about a 5-foot square patch of clover could contain 10,000 sprigs and thus, one would have a chance of finding a four-leaf one.
I’ll conclude this bit of clover trivia with the popular decades old song I would sing while searching for those illusive four-leaf clovers.
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