Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Four leaf clover, so much good luck

We have a lot of clover in our lawn from time to time.  I encourage it to grow in the lawn.  Clover sequesters nitrogen from the atmosphere and makes it available to other plants.  It increases the fertility of the soil plus when I mow them and compost them they increase the nitrogen level in the compost.  Clover is high in protein and my guinea pigs and chickens like to eat it (plus I could eat it if I wanted to).  Bees and other pollinators appreciate the flowers.  When it gets too dry it dies off, but it self seeds and readily pops up when the rains return.  I don't see anything that is not to like about clover.

The other day I saw a 'four leaf' clover.  These are pretty common, far more common than most people realise.  I quickly had a look around and picked fifteen 'four leaf' clovers and eight 'five leaf' clovers, the kids convinced me to take a photo of them.  There were plenty more in the patch, but I didn't bother to pick them.  We don't do anything with them so picking seems like a waste of time.

In the past I once got the kids to help and we picked 48 'four leaf' clovers before I mowed the lawn.  There were probably plenty more around, but we got a little bored of looking for and finding so many of them.

'Four leaf' clover
Four leaf clover

'Five leaf' clover
Five leaf clover

What is a four leaf clover?
Clover usually produces each leaf with three leaflets.  What most people think of as a 'four leaf' clover is actually a singe leaf with four leaflets.  Often the clover plant will have many leaves, sometimes one or more leaves will have four leaflets, usually most of the leaves will have the usual three leaflets.  Sometimes clover will produce a leaf with five leaflets, like the one above.

Why are four and five leaf clovers produced?
I have never seen a clover plant which only produces 'four leaf clover'.  They may exist, but I have never seen one.  There are several plants with leaves that look similar to clover that always have four leaflets.  These similar looking plants are not what are considered to be a four leaf clover.

Several things can make clover produce extra leaflets on a leaf.  Some plants have a genetic disposition to have a greater percentage of extra leaflets, but as I said I am not aware of any that always produce four leaflets. 

If there is a lot of rain these plants tend to produce more leaves with extra leaflets.  If there is a lot of nitrogen in the soil, as well as generally good soil fertility, these plants also produce extra leaflets.

Clover is a legume which sequesters atmospheric nitrogen, if clover is thriving it is getting lots of nitrogen from the air into a usable form in the soil, which in turn increases the chances of the plant growing extra leaflets.

When there is good soil moisture and high levels of soil nitrogen you tend to see lots of 'four leaf' clovers.
'four leaf' and 'five leaf' clovers - I must be super lucky!

Why are four leaf clover considered lucky?
They are considered to be good luck because they are magic!  No, that can't be it...

Four leaf clovers don't bring good luck, no one has ever believed that they do, but they are a sign that good luck is coming.  There is no magic involved, just science.

In years when there is good rain and good soil fertility when the clover is thriving you see plenty of 'four leaf' clovers.  In dry years, or in poor soil when clover is not thriving you only see regular three leaflet clover.  As a result of good rain, good soil fertility, and plenty of clover your livestock produce well, and your crops produce well.  If your farm is producing well you make extra money and life is easier.  Therefore, seeing 'four leaf' clover means good luck. 

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