Old myth claims that four leaf clovers hold the luck of the Irish, though this parable likely came about because of the rareness of a four leaf clover. Although unsure, geneticists think a clover may sport a fourth leaf due to a rare genetic mutation in the clover plant or possibly a recessive gene. How this leaf trait is inherited has perplexed geneticists for many years.

There are nearly 300 different species of clover genus Trifolium with Trifolium repens, or white clover, being the most common in North America. Clover genus Trifolium are so named because the plants typically have three leaves or leaflets (tri=three).  More fantastically, the clover’s leaflets are said to each represent a trait: faith, hope, love, and if a fourth leaflet is present, it is said to represent luck.

Occasionally the genetics of the clover result in the rare four leaf clover although sometimes clovers can have even more than four leaflets. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the most leaves ever found on a clover stem was 56 and was found by Shigeo Obara in May 2009.

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