The symbol of the shamrock is known worldwide and most often associated with Ireland. It is a staple in souvenir shops and donned en masse on St. Patrick’s Day. But have you ever stopped to wonder about this little leaf?
Indeed, we often refer to it as being synonymous with the Emerald Isle. Sometimes, however, it is easy to overlook things that are so familiar in our culture. We can take these things for granted, or we don’t think of it as being something worth researching, perhaps.
In a bid to bone up a bit more about this little leafy plant, here are ten facts about the shamrock that you probably never knew!
10. Irish Through and Through
Did you know that Ireland’s leading national airline, Aer Lingus’ nickname is “shamrock”?
During communication between different aircrafts and control towers, all Aer Lingus jets are referred to as “shamrock”. Talk about patriotism at its finest!
9. Medicinal Purposes
Shamrocks produce a red pigment called anthocyanin. The story goes that when this is ingested, it can reap major health benefits! Now there’s a fact about the shamrock you probably never knew.
8. Ain’t No Weed
In 2002, the land down under (aka Australia) started listing our beloved shamrocks as weeds opposed to small plants.
During the height of the foot and mouth disease outbreak, Australia banned shamrocks in a bid to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Whatever you do, don’t go sending any lucky shamrocks down under.
7. Teaching Tools of St. Patrick
It is said that St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, taught his followers and spread the word of Christianity across Ireland and abroad.
Now, we’re not going to believe everything we read on the internet (for example, he is also said to have chased snakes out of Ireland), but it is widely known that he used shamrocks in his teachings.
The three leaves are said to represent the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
6. The Luck of the Irish
The species of plant we refer to as shamrocks are generally Trifolium repens.
The three leaves on a shamrock represent faith, hope and love. In Ireland, it is considered extremely lucky if you find one with four leaves due to their rarity. The fourth leaf represents luck.
5. A Rare Irish Symbol
As mentioned above in #5, four-leaf clovers are very rare. Like very very rare.
A record year in 2009 saw 56 harvested in one single region in Japan. This is mind-blowing if you take into consideration that only one in 10,000 clovers is found to have four leaves.
4. Ties To A Celtic Goddess
One fact about the shamrock that you probably never knew is that it is associated with Celtic goddess Danu.
In Irish mythology, Anu was a maiden, mother and crone of Ireland. The three leaves on the shamrock are supposed to represent this.
3. It’s All in The Name
Ever wondered where the word “shamrock” comes from? Indeed it may be something closely associated with Ireland, but often we forget to stop and wonder how or why things come to be.
The word “shamrock” derives from the word seamróg or seamair óg in the Irish language which means “little clover”.
2. Let The Luck Grow
If you’re lucky enough to find a four-leaf clover, you must cut off the fourth leaf and place it in a glass of water until it begins to grow, they say.
Then, you plant it into your garden, thus causing a “lucky patch” of grass to grow!
1. It’s All A Lie!
A final fact about the shamrock that you probably never knew is that technically there is no such thing as a shamrock! Mind. Blown.
A shamrock is a term which has, over time, come to refer to a group of green-leafed clovers. We mainly refer to trifolium repens as a shamrock, which generally have three leaves.