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St. Patrick's Day Shamrocks Bring Luck O' The Irish To Flowers

By Wesley Berry

You probably recognize the shamrock as a symbol of St. Patrick's Day, so why not add a bit of that Irish luck to your St. Patrick's Day flowers? Believe it or not, many florists do keep a supply of shamrocks on hand to add to bouquets and arrangements ordered for St. Patrick's Day. Well, at least they carry something that passes for shamrocks... A closer look at the shamrock and the legends surrounding it reveals that finding the "true shamrock" requires more than just the luck brought by a four-leaf clover.

The origin of the word "shamrock" is in the Irish word seamrog, which means "little clover." While it's a lovely name, it's not particularly descriptive considering that there are numerous kinds of clovers and even some plants that are recognized as clovers by the general public, though botanically they are not. Even the folks living in Ireland have some difficulty agreeing on what a shamrock truly is. In a survey conducted by Tippitwitchet Cottage at the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin, Dublin showed that Irish believe the shamrock to be one of four plants:

* 46 percent believe it is the lesser trefoil, or hop clover;

* 35 percent say it's the white clover;

* 7 percent think it's the black medick (which isn't a clover at all, merely a clover-like plant); and,

* 4 percent believe the shamrock is the red clover.

Why the division over what the shamrock really is? Well, that may come from the legend of the shamrock itself. The story goes that Saint Patrick used the shamrock as a visual aid to explaining the Christian belief of the doctrine of the Trinity. Shamrocks have three leaves united by one stalk, which Saint Patrick pointed out during his lesson.

Now, you're probably scratching your head and thinking, "Three leaves? What about the 'lucky four-leaf clover'?" Ah, that's where things become even more confusing. Technically speaking, a four-leaf clover cannot be a shamrock because of the very fact that it has four leaves and doesn't conform to the definition originated in the Saint Patrick legend. The idea of the lucky four-leaf clover actually originates not through Christian tradition, but through Pagan beliefs. Ancient Druids were said to have propagated this belief because they held the four-leaf clover as a Celtic charm against malevolent spirits.

Three leaf, four leaf, shamrock, clover-whatever the case may be, shamrocks or what passes for them make a beautiful addition to any St. Patrick's Day flower arrangement or bouquet. So, remember to ask your florist to add the luck o' the Irish to your St. Patrick's Day flowers!

About The Author

Wesley Berry is the President of Wesley Berry Flowers, a successful multi-million dollar business that was established in 1946. He is also the Headmaster of the Professional Florists' Institute, a floral design school located in Michigan.


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