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October 8, 2019

How to find a four-leaf clover

Screen Shot 2019-10-06 at 8.51.03 PM

From the New York Times:

"First, you have to believe that you'll find one and trust that they're there," says Leslie Hirst, a visual artist and professor at Rhode Island School of Design who made a series of paintings that each include 1,024 four-leaf clovers she found.

In Hirst's experience, four-leaf clovers are more prevalent in the spring before the first mowing.

Beginners should scan the edge of a patch, where the plants are less dense.

Don’t get up close and start counting individual leaves.

Instead, visually skim for what Hirst calls "ruptures in the pattern" — a four-leaf clover makes the shape of a square, while the typical three-leaf version appears as a triangle.

Imprint the four-leaf image in your mind until you can see it even when you close your eyes.

Hirst's obsession began in rural North Carolina, where in fifth grade she and a friend spent every afternoon racing to see who could find 100 four-leaf clovers first.

"We cleaned out her yard and mine, and then we wiped out our whole neighborhood," she says.

Ever since, Hirst can't help finding them everywhere she goes.

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Her record in a single day is 333, but she has collected, pressed, and stored tens of thousands.

Hirst is so sensitized to them that she can spot one at a full run; she started jogging at night to avoid the distraction.

"They're really hard for me to resist," she says.

White clover is one of the most common and widely distributed of the 300 or so varieties.

Scientists estimate that 1 in 10,000 plants will have four leaflets; this multifoliolate trait is genetic but often triggered by environmental factors, like higher temperatures.

If you're surrounded by clover and can't find a four-leafer, move on.

"Many patches don't have any at all," Hirst says.

Search during the day; clover is nyctinastic, folding inward at night.

Find a spot in the shade; full sun tends to flatten the clovers into what looks like a uniform green schmear, making patterns harder to distinguish.

Try to avoid scouring clover in an agitated state.

"Let it be calming," Hirst says.

People have long considered four-leaf clovers to be lucky talismans, so go ahead and speak your hopes and dreams into an oddball flowering legume.

"I like anything I can make a wish on," Hirst says. "I do it with shooting stars too."


Each of the three images above contains at least one four-leaf clover.

Fair warning: there goes the day.

October 8, 2019 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


I think the last one (and only) I found was in 1978. I spotted the one in the first and last image almost instantly, then had problems finding it again!

Posted by: Greg | Oct 8, 2019 10:20:43 AM

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