The Shamrock, or Irish Clover, is a symbol of good luck and synonymous with Irish culture. The three-leaf clover is believed to represent the Holy Trinity and the rarer four-leaf clover is considered the quintessential symbol of good luck. In the U.S. around St. Patrick’s day the Shamrock makes its appearance on everything from necklaces to pint glasses to glittery cardboard cutouts and more. The word Shamrock comes from the Irish word seamrog which translates as “little clover” and if you’ve ever been to Ireland you’ll recall the hills that roll green with the beautiful little clover. Long known to farmers and ranchers as excellent, nutritious fodder for cows and other herd animals, this little clover is also packed with medicinal benefits that we humans can enjoy!
The traditional image of the Shamrock is based upon the beautiful White Clover (Trifolium repens) and its cousin, the Red Clover (Trifolium praetese). Both of these herbaceous perennials have historically been used to treat a variety of common ailments including fever, coughs, and colds. Red Clover is used as the basis of an ointment to treat gout and skin rashes, and a mild infusion of the flowers can be used to treat eye infections. Red Clover has calming properties and can be used with a mixture of herbs such as chamomile and hops as a mild sedative. In addition the humble little Red Clover has been proven to have anti-cancerous properties and has been used in medicine to treat cancerous growths.
Both varieties of the clover have long been naturalized in the United States and there are more than 300 plants in the Trifolium genus, many of which possess similar medicinal properties. Though they are often regarded as a weed to the homeowner who tries to keep their lawn clover-free, the clover is packed with hidden healing properties. So the next time you see this little plant, whether it have three leaves or four, you can smile knowing it truly is a lucky plant!