Astonished by the lovely row of plants on the window sill, I reached for my camera. The trifoliate leaves were three inches across! Had I been mistaken all my life thinking shamrock was clover? Of course I went to Google and — if you’re wondering too, read more.
Ahh, Shamrocks are indeed clover. The lovely plants on the window sill are Oxalis, wood sorrell — often given as a gift on St. Patrick’s day.
The common wood sorrel is sometimes referred to as a shamrock and given as a gift on St. Patrick’s Day. This is due to its trifoliate clover-like leaf, and to early references to shamrock being eaten. Despite this, it is generally accepted that the plant described as shamrock is a species of clover, usually white clover (Trifolium repens).
A shamrock is a young sprig of clover, used as a symbol of Ireland. Saint Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint, is said to have used it as a metaphor for the Christian Trinity. The nameshamrock comes from Irishseamróg, which is the diminutive of the Irish word for clover (seamair) and means simply “little clover” or “young clover”.Shamrock usually refers to either the species Trifolium dubium (lesser clover, Irish: seamair bhuí) or Trifolium repens (white clover, Irish: seamair bhán). However, other three-leaved plants—such as Medicago lupulina, Trifolium pratense, and Oxalis acetosella—are sometimes called shamrocks or clovers. The shamrock was traditionally used for its medicinal properties and was a popular motif in Victorian times.
But that’s not the end of the story! An article in USA Today 3/17/2015 reports on surveys on the question of which plant is the real shamrock.
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