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Ireland Shamrock

Four-Leaf Clover vs Shamrock: Do you know the difference?

ireland shamrock

Surely you’ve heard reference to a  four-leaf clover being considered rare and extremely lucky. But did you know a shamrock is not the same as a four-leaf clover?

Now before we dive into the history behind this superstition, it’s worth mentioning that the traditional shamrock should not be interchanged with a four-leaf clover.


The New York Times got a schooling from Irish Central after publishing a picture of a four-leaf clover mistakenly in place of Ireland’s national shamrock symbol.  Sounds benign enough to the average American, but when you think about major foreign newspaper posting crow in place of the US eagle, one can see the point.

The term “shamrock” originates from the Irish word seamair óg, which translates literally to “little clover“.

shamrock vs clover

Christy Dorrity recently outlined the differences between Shamrocks & Four-Leaf Clovers in some of the following points:

  • A four-leaf clover is a mutation of a shamrock and can represent faith, hope, love, and luck.
  • The four leaves of a clover stand for Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and God’s Grace.
  • The shamrock has been registered as a trademark by the Government of Ireland.
  • Clovers can have more than four leaves: the most ever recorded is twenty-one.
  • It has been estimated that there are approximately 10,000 three-leaf clovers for every four-leaf clover.
  • For good luck, a four-leaf clover can be included in the bouquet of an Irish bride, and also in the boutonniere of the groom.
  • According to Nathaniel Colgan, the botanist, and author of The Flora Of County Dublin in 1904, people ate shamrocks in times of famine.
  • There is no universal consensus as to the original shamrock.

We hope you enjoyed this quick run-down so the next time you find a four-leaf clover, you’ll not only be lucky but also well-informed. Good luck!