Why Are Four-Leaf Clovers So Hard To Find? (2024)

Wonder of the Day #1649

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Why Are Four-Leaf Clovers So Hard To Find? (1)

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Have You Ever Wondered...

  • Why are four-leaf clovers so hard to find?
  • What do the four leaves of a four-leaf clover stand for?
  • Why are four-leaf clovers considered lucky?

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Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Tsvetelina from Brooklyn . Tsvetelina Wonders, “Why are four leaf clovers harder to find than three leaf ones?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Tsvetelina!

Your palms are sweaty. Your foot is tap, tap, tapping on the floor. You bite your nails and look nervously at the clock. Only a minute until the teacher passes out the test and you're wishing you had studied a lot more last night. Just before you start the test, your best friend wishes you good luck.

Yes! Luck! That's it. That's what you need. You search your pockets, but you left your lucky rabbit's foot at home. If only you could lay hands on a horseshoe or, even better, a four-leaf clover!

But there's no time to rush outside to search for a four-leaf clover. And what would be the point anyway? What are the odds of finding a four-leaf clover?

Experts would tell you that the odds of finding a four-leaf clover are about 1 in 10,000. Yikes! Those aren't very good odds. Given the rarity of four-leaf clovers, it's no WONDER they're a symbol of good luck. You have to be really lucky to find one!

Although there are various types of clover, the type we're talking about when discussing four-leaf clovers is known as Trifolium repens, or white clover. Trifolium is a Latin word that means "three leaf." That explains why 99.99% of clovers you find only have three leaves.

Clovers with four (or more) leaves are the result of mutations or recessive genes in the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) of clover plants. In the last few years, some scientists have isolated what they believe are the genes responsible for four-leaf clovers.

As rare as four-leaf clovers are, clovers with five or six leaves are even rarer. Currently, the world record for most leaves on a single clover stem is 56. That incredible specimen was found in Japan in 2009.

The association of four-leaf clovers with good luck has ancient roots. In fact, an ancient Christian legend holds that Eve took a four-leaf clover with her when she left the Garden of Eden so she could remember what Paradise was like.

More recent Irish traditions hold that Saint Patrick used the three-leaf clover, also called a shamrock, to teach about the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. A fourth leaf was thought to symbolize God's grace.

Today, many cultures believe the leaves of the three-leaf clover represent faith, hope, and love. And if you find a four-leaf clover, what does that fourth leaf symbolize? You guessed it: luck!

Wonder What's Next?

We don’t mean to brag, but tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day totally rules!

Try It Out

Feeling lucky? Grab a few friends or family members and explore the following activities together:

  • In need of some luck? Maybe all you need to do is to find a four-leaf clover. Easier said than done, though, right? Maybe or maybe not! Read through How To Find a Four Leaf Clover online for some tips that might prove helpful.
  • If you've tried and really can't seem to find that elusive four-leaf clover, then maybe you need some help from science. Science? Yes, science! Check out Scientific American's How Science Can Help You Find a 4-Leaf Clover video to learn more. Good luck!
  • If you still can't find a four-leaf clover, what else could you turn to for good luck? Think about all the things that are associated with good luck. Legends and superstitions vary by culture, but there are many different things considered lucky. Try to make a list of at least five things thought to be lucky. Share your list with a friend or family member. Can they think of any others?

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Wonder Contributors

We’d like to thank:

Grey, Jenny, Riley, Boeckx from NC and Nerissa
for contributing questions about today’s Wonder topic!

Keep WONDERing with us!

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Why Are Four-Leaf Clovers So Hard To Find? (2024)

FAQs

Why Are Four-Leaf Clovers So Hard To Find? ›

Trifolium is a Latin word that means "three leaf." That explains why 99.99% of clovers you find only have three leaves. Clovers with four (or more) leaves are the result of mutations or recessive genes in the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) of clover plants.

Why are 4 leaf clovers hard to find? ›

Whereas human chromosomes come in matched pairs, clovers have four copies of each chromosome per cell. The gene responsible for four-leaf clovers is 'recessive', which means that the plant will only produce four leaves if it has the four-leaf gene on all four chromosomes, which is a rare occurrence.

Is there a trick to finding 4 leaf clovers? ›

In a dense patch of white clover, a four-leafer lurks in an area of less than fifteen square feet (on average). Find a thick patch and slowly brush your hand over the surface. The center of a four-leaf clover has a different shape and the fourth leaf is often smaller than the others.

What are the odds of finding a 4 leaf clover? ›

According to The Weather Network, a four-leaf clover is rare, and difficult to find. A quick Google search said the odds are 1 in 10,000, but a 2017 study says chances are much better, with a 1 in 5,000 chance. Inside Science also reported 1 in 10,000 odds.

How hard is it to get a 4 leaf clover? ›

But four-leaf clovers exist, all right, and this is how you can find one: Look for a patch of clovers. 1 in 5,000-10,000 clovers is a four-leafed clover, so your chances are better if you're looking at a whole bunch of them. Make sure they're actually clovers.

Are four-leaf clovers actually rare? ›

It's a rare variation of the common three-leaf clover, and because your chances of finding one with four leaves is about 1 in 10,000, they're considered lucky. Four-leaf clovers have been around for ages, and their supposed lucky powers are talked about in centuries-old legends.

Which is rarer 4 or 5 leaf clover? ›

It's estimated that you have a 1 in 100,000 chance of finding a five-leaf clover, compared to a 1 in 10,000 chance of finding a four-leaf clover.

Which is rarer 3 or 4 leaf clover? ›

Occurrence. A 2017 survey of approximately 5.7 million clovers in central Europe found the frequency of 4-leaf clovers to be about 5000 to 1 (one 4-leaf clover for every ~5000 normal 3-leaf clovers), twice the commonly stated probability of 10,000 to 1.

What happens if you pick a four-leaf clover? ›

Four-leaf clovers, aside from being considered good luck, are said to be symbols of faith, love, hope and good fortune. Unlike shamrocks, which have three leaves, four-leaf clovers aren't considered religious symbols, especially not in Ireland.

How rare is the 5 leaf clover? ›

How rare are 5 leaf clovers? The five-leaf clover is the rarest of these variants. Surprisingly, the odds of finding a five-leaf clover are one in a million for new finders. However, others believe that collectors have a one in 20,000 chance of finding the treasure.

Where is the best place to find 4 leaf clover? ›

Walk around areas with a lot of leaves and trees, like parks and trials, to seek out clover patches. If you have a backyard, look there as well. Clovers often grow in lawns.

What's the hardest clover to find? ›

In the last few years, some scientists have isolated what they believe are the genes responsible for four-leaf clovers. As rare as four-leaf clovers are, clovers with five or six leaves are even rarer. Currently, the world record for most leaves on a single clover stem is 56.

What to do if I found 4 leaf clover? ›

If you do happen to find one… keep searching that area! A 2017 survey concluded that around 1 in 5,000 clovers is four-leaved, but they do tend to be found in clusters. Statistically, if a clover plant produces one four-leaf clover, it's likely to produce more of them than normal plants would.

Where is it most common to find a four-leaf clover? ›

Walk around areas with a lot of leaves and trees, like parks and trials, to seek out clover patches. If you have a backyard, look there as well. Clovers often grow in lawns.

Is it bad to pick a four-leaf clover? ›

Why are four-leaf clovers lucky? Four-leaf clovers are considered lucky for their rarity. In the Middle Ages, it was believed by some Celtic groups that wielding a four-leaf clover would help you see fairies, as well as ward off evil spirits and grant the holder good luck.

Why is a 4 leaf clover special? ›

The Druids (Celtic priests), in the early days of Ireland, believed that when they carried a three-leaf clover or shamrock, they could see evil spirits coming and have a chance to escape in time. Four-leaf clovers were Celtic charms, presumed to offer magical protection and ward off bad luck.

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