First Edition, by Derrick Fogle
“I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” – Thomas Jefferson
“I’ve found that luck is quite predictable. If you want more luck, take more chances. Be more active. Show up more often.” – Brian Tracy
“When I work fourteen hours a day, seven days a week, I get lucky.” – Dr. Armand Hammer
“Work and acquire, and thou hast chained the wheel of Chance.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Luck is not chance- It is toil. Fortune’s expensive smile is earned.” – Emily Dickinson
My journey to becoming a 4-leaf clover hunting expert is the strongest validation of the above adages about luck I’ve ever experienced. Years ago, feeling down on my luck, I became mesmerized by symbols of good luck. The 4-leaf clover, in particular. I went on an odyssey to find 4-leaf clovers; I went looking for luck. What I found, was that my success was a result of (self) education, knowledge, practice, and persistence.
I’ve found hundreds of 4-leaf clovers, more than a dozen 5-leaf clovers, and two career 6-leaf clovers so far. Conventional wisdom is that 5-leaf clovers are about 1 in 10,000. I believe my success rate is much higher, possibly even on the low side of 1 in 5,000. An internet search revealed several “just go look” guides, and while the looking is important, I’d like to share my current knowledge and methodology for improving your chance of finding 4-leaf clovers.
WHEN TO LOOK
4-leaf clovers are most common in the first strong growth of spring. This is why they are associated with an early spring event, St. Patrick’s Day. Leaf morphism happens throughout the summer, but once plant growth is steady and established, it’s less likely to produce 4-leaf clovers. Clovers will sometimes also respond to stress events like getting flooded, extreme cold or hot temperatures, drought, being mowed, or being trampled, with a burst of 4-leaf morphism. Patches in areas that are infrequently mowed, that have a growth spurt above the grass after a mowing, tend to produce more 4-leaf clovers as well. Search areas that have suffered stress events a couple weeks after the event to catch fresh re-growth more likely to contain 4-leaf clovers.
WHERE TO LOOK
There are a lot of aspects of where to look; none of them foolproof, but I believe all of them, especially together and honed with time and practice and knowledge of your local clover patches, will tend to significantly increase your 4-leaf clover hunting success.
- 4-leaf production is partly genetic. A patch that produces lots of them is likely to keep producing them. Look where you’ve found them before, you’re likely to find more.
- I tend to find more 4-leaf clovers in areas where the dirt has been disturbed. They’re incredibly common alongside some newer concrete bike trails in town. Poor soil conditions, like clay and gravel from the dirt and concrete work, seem to increase the frequency of 4-leaf production.
- Look first in the most prominently “flame-pointed” clover
patches. The white markings on the leaves is what I call “flame-pointing” because the white marking pattern often looks like a flame point outline. Look for prominently flame-pointed patches to search in first. When the flame point patterns start getting crazy like going double-vision, that’s an additional indicator of higher likelyhood of 4-leaf production. It’s like whatever causes the white markings on the leaves has something in common with what causes extra leaf production.
- Look for young, dark green, as round as possible leaves in
patches. Look for 3-leaf clovers with leaves split down the middle, or that are “dimpled” at the top of the leaf. Those will indicate leaf morphism is likely to be prevalent in that patch.
- Don’t bother with patches where clover leaves have gotten lighter green and/or elongated; they almost never produce 4-leaf clovers. Flowering clover is also very unlikely to produce 4-leaf clovers, and patches that have started producing stemmed, multi-leaf pod clusters are a very poor bet as well.
If you find one, there’s often more right there! 4-leaf production very frequently happens in clusters. It’s amazing how often I find two 4-leaf clovers right next to each other, or 4-6 of them in just square foot or two of patch. Quickly scan patches for big, easy-to spot ones, then if you do, get down close and examine the patch. You’ll often find more right there.
This is where practice and persistence pays off. Actually finding 4-leaf clovers is a visual pattern matching task. If you are really good at pattern matching tests and stuff like I-Spy games, you can learn to spot 4-leaf clovers. Follow the guidelines above to narrow your search, then… search.
It’s generally easiest to spot 4-leaf clovers around the edges of patches where they’re thinner and it’s easier to distinguish individual leaf sets. It’s really hard to spot them in the middle of a thick patch! Start looking around the edges of the patches where it’s easier to scan individual leaf sets, then search generally inward from there. As you move towards the thicker center of a patch, look for other clues like prominent flame pointing, leaf tip dimpling and other minor leaf malformations. They will help lead you to legitimate 4+ leaf clovers.
Once you start finding them, your brain starts remembering how to see them. Once you’ve practiced enough, and found enough of them, you can develop and improve your ability to spot the “different” looking clover leaf set fairly easily. You will eventually become an expert 4-leaf clover hunter too!
To validate the adage that what appears to be luck is usually actually
the product of education, hard work, and dedication.
To learn that you have the power to improve your “luck”.
To spend time outdoors in nature.
To enjoy life, and maybe be just a little silly or quirky.
Thanks for reading my first ever 4-leaf clover hunter’s guide! I hope to publish updates from time to time as I learn
even more and possibly get even better at 4-leaf clover hunting. If anyone else is interested in exploring 4-leaf clover hunting, maybe we can establish some group online somewhere? Let me know if so!