Luck & Chance

Puzzle Inspired Story

You’ve Found One!

A medieval English politician and author, Sir John Melton, wrote in 1620, that “If a man walking in the fields finds any four-leaved grass, he shall in a small while after find some good thing.” One root of that belief, well established long before Melton’s remark, is explained by the fact that a four-leaf clover is found once in every 10,000 common three-leaved clovers. Four-leaf clovers were considered a lucky charm repelling bad spirits by Druids, the pre-Christian Celtic priests occupying Ireland and much of Western Europe. According to some legends, each of the leaves has a meaning: the first stands for faith, the second for hope, the third for love, and the last one for luck. Another fable states, to children’s delight, that finding a four-leaf clover allows one to see fairies and plant sprites (ghosts or elf-like beings). Finally, a legend has it that during Adam’s and Eve’s eviction from the Garden of Eden, Eve took the four-leaved plant to remind her of life in Paradise.

The appearance of the fourth leaf in a normally three-leaved plant is believed to have a genetic origin. One possibility is that a low frequency receding gene expresses itself in only those plants whose both parents possess that gene (thereby further decreasing the likelihood of that occurring). Another possibility is a mutation induced by environmental stress (e.g. ultraviolet radiation or chemical exposure). In fact, in 2010 researchers from the University of Georgia reported having identified a gene causing the plant to grow four leaves. This suggests that, by skillful breeding or use of environmental factors, it is possible to produce a line of clovers possessing the required four-leaf genes. A British naturalist, Richard Mabey, states in his book Flora Britannica that there are farms in the US which have succeeded in coaxing the plant to “four-leafness “ on an industrial scale. In view of this, the reports of collectors amassing hundreds of thousands of four-leaf clovers are perhaps plausible. The Guinness World Record for the largest collection of four-leaf clovers belongs to Edward Martin Sr., from Alaska, USA, who owned 111,060 of them as of May, 2007.

Now that’s a lot of luck!


Four Leaf Clover

Difficulty Score

Level Like/Not Like Votes Click to see

Solvers' Ratings

Be the first to solve this puzzle! After creating a free account with us—a step which takes only moments to complete—you'll be able to rate your experience with every grid you have solved. You will aso be able to share your impressions by leaving a comment.