160,000 Four-Leaf Clovers?

This doesn’t really seem possible, but Edward Martin has found 160,000 four-leaf clovers. I’ve been looking my whole life and never found one.

Trying to find one was my main reason for playing Pee Wee Baseball, but then I got moved from outfield to shortstop and my baseball career ended shortly thereafter.

How fast does Martin find them? He is 76 years old. Let’s say he has spent an average of two hours a day looking for the last sixty years. That would be about 44,000 hours. Could he really find one every fifteen minutes? That seems unbelievable, but maybe some blog-reading four-leaf clover hunters can weigh in on that issue. Possibly he spent a lot more hours per day hunting.

The best part of the Chicago Tribune article is that his closest competitor got locked up in a prison that didn’t have any clover, allowing Martin to surge past him for the record.


bill boy

My Mom can find them in any patch within seconds. I look at the same thing and see a sea of green. Even if I get down on my hands and knees I can't see them, but my Mom will pick them out of the patch I just scrutinized. Clearly this is a perceptive ability thing. Strangely, my Mom can't draw perspective. Could this have something to do with it? Could it be (dare I say) a gender issue?

Chad

I remember as a kid looking for 4 leaf clovers, most of the time coming up empty, but when I did find them it tended to be in quantity. If I had to guess I would have to say that some times I found up to 10 it about 1 square foot. Certain areas seemed to produce more while others produced none. I guess if you looked that often you would know the best places.

Ed

Sounds like there are two tecniques used in combination. First: use the left brain (for rightys) to look. Second: be in Nebraska or Georgia.

orphancow

i found a couple thousand one summer in middle school several years ago... there were some patches that had several (5,6,7, even an 8 leaf) clovers. i spent a lot time that summer looking for as many as possible. i dont make an effort to look for them these days, but still find them occasionally just glancing down at the ground when i'm outside, so the number is not surprising to me at all..

LB

When I was living in Yunnan, there were many clovers around. And amazingly there were many four-leaf ones. You can find three or more four-leaf ones in 15 minutes. So I guess in some areas there is a high probability to grow four-leaf clovers.

DQKennard

The sort of "wide scan" observation that seems from the comments to work for 4-leaf clover hunting also works for other things, such as finding seaglass (pieces of broken glass attractively smoothed by abrasive tumbling in the surf, for those not near a coast). Concentrating on the details is slow and generally ineffective, but looking at the field as a whole and letting yourself notice a difference in the overall pattern can make the 4-leaf clover, or the piece of seaglass, or whatever, jump right out. In the case of seaglass, it's a subtle difference in the tone of the light reflecting from glass compared to rocks or seaweed.

Toxic

I had a patch with a very high 4 leaf rate... kinda killed the myth for me.

Of course, I'm no botanist so for all I know it was just a normal 4 leafed plant that looked like a clover to me.

SKates

As either a science or a statistics class, we went searching for 4-clovers in high school, and tested how many 4-clovers we found against the stated likelihood of finding a 4-clover in any one patch. For some reason, a relatively unrare number like "1 in 750" sticks in my head. I know that our findings were well within a standard deviation given 10K+ clovers, though. This hazy memory suggests (a) there is an actual set probability out there for given types of clover, (b) it's not nearly as rare as everyone believes, and (c) high school classes were idiotic. As to what the fact that it is a hazy memory only 10 years later suggests...

g p burdell

I found a bunch of them outside the window of my high school biology room. Always thought that was a strange place to find 4 leaf clovers.

RJ

They definitely appear in certain areas.

I can point you to a certain field in a certain town in Upstate New York where I could always be certain to find a couple dozen, and often more than 4-leaved.

One day, walking back from elementary school, my friend and I filled my soccer cleat with 4-7 leaf clovers found in the ditches along the road.

But there are other locations where you will find perhaps one in several years of looking.

Gavin Andresen

I picked 4-leaf clovers for money when I was 10 years old.

When we moved to Anchorage, Alaska my parents bought a house from a guy who had bred 4-leaf clovers in the back yard. He had a little side business drying them and putting them into clear acrylic doorknobs, paperweights, etc.

I don't remember how much he paid, and don't remember if he described how he created the patch of more-than-usual 4-leafers, but I do remember finding five, six, and even seven-leaf clovers.

Steven

How is it possible that so many readers have not found four-leaf clovers? I'm from the suburbs of Atlanta and have found many, so perhaps there is a greater probability of finding them here than where y'all grew up.

Rachel

I have never found a four leaf clover, I can't believe he has dedicated so much of his life to this, but hey everyone has a hobbie. I wonder what he does with them all??

Rachel
The baked blogger
http://bakedblog.com

Spring

I've found one, and I'm 25. I've spent roughly five hours total in my life looking. And I haven't really looked at all since I found it back in 2000. I've got it in a tiny frame next on my bedside table.

desmoquattro

I believe the genetic difference in a four-leaf clover causes a subtle change in the chemistry of the plant which affects the wavelength of light that a four-leaf clover reflects as compared to a typical three-leaf clover. For a majority of the population the color is indistinguishable, although some people are sensitive to the change and actually see four-leaf clovers as BLUE (much like the effects people with certain color blindness experience).

This may be an urban legend, and someone here may know otherwise, but I distinctly remember reading about this phenomenon a long time ago.

Diversity

Four leaf clovers come in clusters. I found a couple of them when a kid, and never looked purposefully for a four leaf clover thereafter. I guess Martin has developed an ability to pick up indications of where clusters are likely to be found.

Once and once only I have seen a five leaf clover. A child found it. I checked it and it was a clover. Maybe that little girl should have claimed some sort of record.

whoanellie

The real question: Is Mr. Martin 160,000 times luckier than the average non-clover finding person?

ruby

Some clovers (true clover varieties, not just look alikes) are indeed more likely to have four leaves than others. As a child, my father taught me which to look out for, and I found hundreds on our South Georgia island before I moved as an adult to a different climate.

Oddly, even though they were not so rare once I knew how to look, each one still held a bit of magic for me.

discordian

why spend all that time looking for mutants?

David

As some others have noted, some people just seem to have a knack for finding them. My mother, for example, while walking along and talking, would just glance at the ground and see one and pluck it. She never actively hunted them, and I'm sure she found hundreds over her lifetime, so the "time spent" gathering them was limited to the time it took to bend over and pick them up. I'm pretty sure she could have found them at a rate much greater than one per 15 minutes, if she had ever cared about collecting a lot.