St. Patrick’s Day, 17th March, is a celebration of Irish culture, not just in Ireland itself but across the globe, with music, dancing and of course the wearing of shamrock.
This small, delicate, emerald green plant is associated with Ireland’s patron saint, who used the three leaves to represent the Holy Trinity of faith, hope and love. But what is a shamrock?
There is actually no true shamrock in the botanical sense, but the favourite candidate is Trifolium dubium, commonly called ‘Lesser trefoil’ or ‘Seamrog’ in Old Irish, meaning ‘little clover.’ The common white and red clover come in a close second and third in the shamrock stakes.
Did you know?
The shamrock has been Ireland's National Flower since the 18th Century.
Every St. Patrick’s Day a Waterford crystal bowl of shamrock is presented to the President of the USA at the White House.
Clovers, sorrels and trefoils can all claim to be shamrock or near as, and can be grown in the garden, but they have a tendency to become invasive.
Shamrock at home?
The closest houseplant is Oxalis triangularis, also known as False Shamrock. Native to South America, this plant requires bright, indirect light, and a constantly warm temperature between 18-30°C. Water every 1-2 weeks in spring and summer, allowing it to dry out in between. It becomes dormant over winter but can be easily revived by feeding and watering in the spring.
By the way, the chances of finding a four leaved clover are 1 in 10,000 – good luck!
Images provided by thejoyofplants.co.uk and Envato