The clover flower plant also called a trefoil in some locations, can be found all over the world. They can grow in pretty much any condition and location.
They tend to prefer open grasslands and woodland areas. But it isn’t odd to see species of this plant growing by sandbanks, low-quality dirt, in tropical areas. Even at higher altitudes such as on hills or mountains even.
Like grasses, clovers have a tendency to grow pretty much anywhere they find themselves.
Most species of this flower are pretty small. Even when compared to other grasses, rarely reaching more than 25 to 30 cm tall in the biggest cases. They are a staple of many grazing animals across the world.
The most distinct part of this plant is not the flowers, as many other plants are. But, the leaves of the plant themselves. Their 3-part shaped leaves are the centerpiece for these plants.
They tend to grow as part of a wider array of low-growing plants in woodlands and fields. Such as with grasses and other temperate vegetation.
Etymological Meaning Of The Clover Flower
The terms ‘clover’ and ‘trefoil’ are terms that have their routes in Latin, Old Germanic, and older versions of the English languages.
The term clover originally comes from a term from the old Germanic Klaibron. After several centuries of mingling with the local language families of the British Isles, eventually become the Old English word ‘clæfre’ (also commonly spelled as ‘claefre’), which eventually evolved into the middle English term ‘claver’.
This word itself, over many centuries, become amalgamated with the related Dutch word ‘klaver’, along with the German word ‘Klee’. Eventually arrive at the term ‘clover’ that we all know and use today by some time around the 18th century.
It would be the mid 19th century before we see a written reference to the rare variety of plants, cementing the spelling for future centuries to come.
The term ‘trefoil’ has a term less based in the Germanic family of languages and is more related to Latin and its descended tongues. The term originally comes from the Latin words ‘tri’ and ‘folium’, meaning three and plant, respectively.
This creates the term ‘Trifolium’ which, as we discussed, is the umbrella term for the wider family of clovers and other related species. This eventually shortened to the term ‘trifoil’ for the plant by the Anglo-Norman French languages of the Middle Ages, before eventually settling on the spelling ‘trefoil’ by the time it reaches Middle English, and remaining unchanged since then.
Symbolism Of The Clover Flower
These small flowering plants are often tied to verdant fields of grasses and flowers. Also, they have become synonymous with the growth of life itself in green pastures.
There are so many species of clovers that can grow pretty much anywhere. Thus, they will regularly grow where little else can, becoming the dominant small plant life in that area. Not only that, their growth helps the further fertilization of even more plants wherever they spring up.
This has led them to become associated with both life, and the hope of life to come. They bring life where there once was none, wherever they grow where once there was none
Amongst clover symbolism, nothing is perhaps as iconic as the fabled four-leafed clover. The cause for this variation is still a mystery to many scientists. They cannot be sure whether it is because of a rare genetic trait they have. Or, if it is something in their environment that causes it to happen.
For whatever reason, the appearance of one of these elusive plants is a sign of very good fortune to come for the finder. Many also believed they have the power to ward off evil or demonic forces from a person who carried one of them.
Perhaps it is something to do with their connection to folklore and tales of the fae, or fairies. Some religions believed that the presence of the four-leafed clover is a sign of the presence of ties to the Faerie, the realm of the fae.
Having a four-leaf clover on you is able to increase your spiritual and mental abilities. Also, it will allow you to see the fairies and other mystical creatures around you.
Clover Flower Color Meanings
Depending on the color, the flower of clover can mean many things. The green leaves of the plant almost always mean luck or good fortune. Meanwhile, the flowers themselves carry plenty of meaning too.
This color flower usually comes from the meadow clover species, and carried a lot of meaning in the Victorian period. Many of its ties are still important today. It symbolize love and protection of those you hold dear, as well as faithfulness from the person you love. It also can mean the success of industry, and even has ties to the occult and exorcisms!
A rare type of clover flower, there is not much meaning attached to this particular color yellow flower that you cannot find in other species. They are sometimes symbols of hope, and of sacred places of divinity. When Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, Eve took with her a four-leaf clover. It is as a piece of the gardens of paradise outside their historic home.
Often coming from the white clover or shamrock, this color flower is a sign of thoughtfulness and kindness. If a person gifts another with this color, it is a sign that the flower-gifter is thinking of the person. It is also sign that they are keeping them close in their mind and heart. It can also mean faithfulness and love when it is concerning two lovers who are about to enter marriage.
Meaningful Botanical Characteristics Of The Clover Flower
The clover family of plants can vary in their lifespan, depending on the species. Many are annual plants, going through their entire life cycle within a single year. Some species will be biennial. Meaning they live over two years, and some will even be perennial plants, living several years before dying away.
As we stated earlier, these small plants can grow in many soils and temperatures, but most clover’s ideal growing conditions are in temperate climates and latitudes. Being a low-growing plant, they tend to grow best when in partial shade, as they often grow around much taller trees, shrubs, and even grasses. The acidity of the soil should also be close to neutral, around the pH6-7 area, with plenty of potential drainage for them.
The plants and flowers are high in phosphorus, calcium, and protein. This is one of the reasons that many herbivores will choose to consume clovers when they appear in a habitat.
They also release a large amount of nitrogen into the ground around them when they germinate and grow. It has been calculated that 150 lbs of nitrogen can be added to an acre of land if an appropriate amount of clover is grown on it.
Special Occasions For The Clover Flower
Clovers, although often cultivated in large quantities, are wildflowers. As such, they aren’t the type of flower that you would have in a pre-made bouquet, or as part of a fabricated arrangement. It’s simply not how they grow.
Because of this, you very rarely would traditionally offer someone a clover flower in any formal context, no matter how pretty they are.
However, that doesn’t mean that giving someone a clover is out of the question. It just means that you’re going to need to be a little more creative and spontaneous than you would be with other flower offerings.
If you find yourself in a field of some kind that has plenty of flowering clovers, such as on a hike or a social gathering in a field, this would be the perfect time to find a beautiful specimen to gift someone.
Clover wreath crowns are also a popular tradition, going back hundreds of years. Making a wreath with someone else is a beautiful moment that you will be able to share with each other for ages to come.
Then, of course, there’s the chance of finding a four-leaf clover in the field, which is sure to be a beautiful gesture to your significant other. Just make sure you have plenty of time to spare. You’ll be searching for a while!
Clover Flower Cultural Significance
One of Ireland’s most enduring symbols is that of the shamrock, a young sprig or three-pointed plant. The clover, being a three-leaved plant, has since become synonymous with the term.
The first reference that it can be found in Irish culture and history is in the 16th century when a piece of medieval Irish poetry described beautiful fields of clovers covering the landscape.
The shamrock is also an icon that the Irish patron Saint Patrick used to help signify the Holy Trinity to those around him.
Because of his significance in Christian and Irish culture, many came to associate the Shamrock with Roman Catholicism in Ireland, like how the rose became associated with English heritage and the Church of England.
It has become custom around the world on the 17th of March, St Patrick’s Day, to wear some kind of clover or shamrock during celebrations, especially by Irish people and others of Irish descent.
As time went on, and as Ireland found itself more and more involved in English and wider British politics, the clover and shamrock would become a symbol of Irish nationalism and independence. It would be a part of the Royal Coat of arms of the United Kingdom after the 1800 Union Acts.
Today, the motif of a clover used in many designs that feature it has become a part of Ireland’s imagery and has become a piece of national iconography.
Clover Flower Facts
- There are over 200 species of different species of clovers within the Trifolium genus, the umbrella group that all clovers. They are closely related to legume and pea-growing plants, and both are part of the wider Fagaceae family of plants.
- Although the four-leaf clover is a popular symbol of good luck and rarity, there are actually even rarer variants of the normal clover that can be found in the wild. It is possible to 5 and 6 leafed clovers, with the number going up past 8 and even higher in some cases. These potentially 8-leaved clovers are extremely rare to find, however, more so than even the four-leafed variety.
- Like many other flowering plants, clovers are mostly pollinated by insects such as bees and wasps. They were actually a key part of helping the famous naturalist Charles Darwin in explaining how different species interact with each other in the complex system of life, and cascading effects of numbers changing for a species on others.
In his analogy, he compares how people would keep pet cats that would feed on mice, which would feed on bees that would help pollinate clover fields that cows feed on. Darwin’s explanation is that more cats eating more mice would allow more bees to survive and pollinate more clovers. This would, in turn, allow more cows to be fed in a single field, which would lower the price of beef in the area and vice versa. So, more cats = cheaper beef! At least in Victorian times.
- Your chances of finding a four-leaf clover amongst a bed of three-leaf clovers are approximately 10,000 to 1. The odds of finding a lover with more leaves in even lower!
- Clovers have been used in traditional medicines for centuries. They are said to be very good at treating skin conditions, especially, purpura, according to folk wisdom.
Clover Flower Uses
Although they are foraged by plenty of animals in the wild, such as bears, all kinds of deer, and smaller plant-eaters, their uses by people are usually a little more limited. However, people have still found ways of using this flowering plant where it appears.
Because it grows abundantly in fields along with rye-grass, many varieties of clover are grown specifically as fodder plants that can be fed to domesticated animals, such as cows, bigs, and goats.
Nitrogen is a gas that plants need in their soil to remain healthy, and to keep the soil nice and fertile for other plants. Many flowers and other greens can have a habit of absorbing most of the nitrogen in the surrounding earth, leading to artificial nitration being needed, which can in itself potentially through the nutrient and mineral balance of your soil.
With clover flowers, this isn’t necessary. Clover has a lot of nitrogen-fixing elements that allow bacteria to grow around the soil where they seed.
This means that clover flowers will actually help keep nitrogen levels in the soil at a pretty even amount, without the need for extra attention and fertilizers with artificial additives.
And because many species can grow at different times of the year, it’s possible to keep the nutrients of a given field or patch well-maintained all year round!
Symbolism Of A Clover Flower Tattoo
Being both a small flower with a simple shape to emulate has made the clover a popular tattoo for people to have on their bodies. Aside from the simplicity and ease, they are also a symbol of good fortune for people who find them if it is a four-leaf clover on them, as we have already mentioned.
The clover is also a popular tattoo for those who like to celebrate their heritage. People with Irish ancestry are often unable to visit the land of their ancestors for whatever reason, and so choose to honor them in other ways.
One of the most popular is receiving a piece of iconic Irish imagery, such as the clover.
It can also be a popular symbol for those who wish to celebrate their faith. There is plenty of Christian heritage tied to the clover, such as with Adam and Eve’s last gift from the garden, as well as St. Patrick’s own connections to the shamrock, further solidifying the connection to Irish history.
But they are also popular symbols in modern pagan movements such as Wicca and many triple goddess figures, tying it back to the elements of the Earth that give and nurture life.
So, we can see that this little flower has plenty of meaning packed into its bulb-like flower and its trademark three-leafed design. Both on an agricultural level, and historical understanding, and even in a metaphorical and spiritual sense. There’s so much tied into this little plant that people can discover.
We hope this guide has given you the start you need to appreciate the clover a little more!
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