Clover, or trefoil, is the common name for any of the various herbaceous plants comprising the genus Trifolium in the pea family Fabaceae.
There are about 300 species of clover.
Clover have cosmopolitan distribution with the highest diversity in the temperate Northern Hemisphere, but also occurring in South America and Africa.
They are small annual, biennial, or short-lived perennial herbaceous plants; however, clover can be evergreen.
Clovers feature alternate compound leaves, usually with three toothed leaflets.
The very small, fragrant flowers are crowded into dense, nearly spherical heads, or spikes and can be white, pink, red, or yellow.
The small, dry fruits usually contain one or two seeds.
A shamrock is a young sprig, used as a symbol of Ireland. Saint Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint, is said to have used it as a metaphor for the Christian Holy Trinity. The name shamrock comes from Irish seamróg, which is the diminutive of the Irish word seamair óg and means simply “young clover.”
The three portrusions may also be symbolic of the three theological virtues found in first Corinthians 13:13. Faith Love Hope
Clovers occasionally have four leaflets, instead of the usual three. These four-leaf clovers, like other rarities, are considered lucky.
It is claimed that there are approximately 10,000 three-leaf clovers for every four-leaf clover. However, an actual survey of over 5 million clovers found the real frequency to be closer to 5,000 to 1, twice the said probability.
Clovers can also have five, six, or more leaflets, but these are rarer still. The record for most leaflets is 56, set on 10 May 2009. This beat the “21-leaf clover”, a record set in June 2008 by the same discoverer, who had also held the prior Guinness World Record of 18.
The record for the largest collection of four-leaf clovers belongs to Edward Martin Sr. from Cooper Landing, Alaska, USA, with 111,060 four-leaf clovers, as of May 2007, which he has been collecting since 1999.
The most four-leaf clovers collected in one hour (individual) is 166, and was achieved by Katie Borka (USA), in Spotsylvania, Virginia, USA, on 23 June 2018.
A common idiom is “to be in clover”, meaning to live a carefree life of ease, comfort, or prosperity.
Clover was used by the Greeks in garlands and other decorations. The druids held it sacred.
A common belief during the Middle Ages was that a person who carried the rare four leaf clover would have the ability to see fairies.
In 1620, Sir John Melton made the first literary reference to their ability to provide good fortunate. An English writer wrote “That if any man walking in the fields, find any foure-leaved grasse, he shall in a small while after find some good thing.”
Clover is highly palatable to livestock and is high in protein, phosphorus, and calcium, thus providing valuable nourishment in either the green or the dry stage. The flowers are highly attractive to bees, and clover honey is a common secondary product of clover cultivation.
The most widely cultivated clovers are white clover, Trifolium repens, and red clover, Trifolium pratense.
The cloverleaf interchange is named for the resemblance to the leaflets of a (four-leaf) clover when viewed from the air.