White Clover

(Trifolium repens) Is this the true shamrock? Many have argued so, but this is a question of some complexity (see SHAMROCK). Not surprisingly, with this background, clover had something magical about it. It was a protector, able to drive witches away (Dyer), and anyone carrying it about his person will be able to detect the presence of evil spirits (WoodMartin). It was gathered with a gloved hand, and brought into the house where there was a lunatic, without anyone knowing; its very presence was enough to cure madness (Wood-Martin). If a farmer carries one, all will be well with his cattle at that most difficult time, May Day. Pliny mentions the ability of trefoil to cure those suffering from the effects of bites of poisonous creatures. So the legend of St Patrick banishing all snakes from Ireland may have derived from some such superstition as this.

How much greater the efficacy if it happens to be a four-leaved clover! There are many beliefs concerning it (see FOUR-LEAVED CLOVER). But there can be five-leaved specimens, too, though in America, finding one is believed to bring nothing but misfortune (Bergen. 1896). That is not the Scottish view, though - there is a proverb "He found himself in five-leaved clover", i.e., in very comfortable circumstances. Two-leaved Clover also had some significance:

A clover, a clover of two,

Put it in your right shoe;

The first young man you meet,

In field, street or lane,

Similarly, there is a Quebec superstition that if you put a four-leaved clover in your shoe, you will marry a man having the first name of the man you meet first after doing so (Bergen. 1896), and there are many more with similar import. You could put your four-leaved clover over the door, too. Then the first person to walk under it will be your future mate. A two-leaved specimen would do as well in Wales, provided it was found by accident. Then it should be put under the pillow, so that the finder should dream of the future partner (Howells).

There is one piece of weather lore involving clover: they say that their leaves fold before rain, and expand some hours before a heat wave (Trevelyan). To dream that you are in a field of clover is an omen of health and happiness (Raphael). What other interpretation could there be in popular imagination?

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