Most people have had the experience of searching for an elusive four-leaf clover in a patch of green grass. Over time, it can form into clover flowers in red, white, and purple clover colors. Clover flower meanings include hope, marriage and love, protection, good fortune, and good luck. Keep reading for more clover symbolism.
About the Clover Flower
Red clover – botanically known as Trifolium pratense – is a member of the Fabaceae family. It’s also known as the trefoil and belongs to the Trifolium genus.
History and Origin
Clover is a perennial native to North Africa, Asia, and Europe. Then it spread around the Northern Hemisphere as a source of fodder.
Clover grows in erect branches with three to four slightly hairy elliptical leaflets. Clover produces small flowers formed into a dense spike of red, purple, pink, white, or sometimes yellow from May to September.
Clover Flower Care
Clover – white – is a common ground cover choice because it can grow fast while balancing the soil’s nitrogen content. In addition, it grows hardy from USDA hardiness zones 3 through 10.
You can plant it in yards with full sun exposure or as little as four hours of sun daily. However, avoid areas with standing water. The soil needs to be well-draining and should have a pH of 6 to 7. Lime can help get to this target pH.
You’ll need to keep the soil moist to get the fastest growth. While 30” of rain yearly is essential, 45” is better. It will need plenty of room to grow – 6” in height with an 18” spread per plant. And many plants have tendrils that can bury deep roots.
Uses Throughout History
Clovers have been used in various cultures for medicinal purposes for centuries. In Russia and China, red clover is used for diuretic, sedative, antispasmodic, antitussive, choleretic, and depurative abilities.
It also cures external skin conditions and heart and respiratory diseases, like coughs, spasms, and hoarseness. And a high antioxidant count also gives it anti-cancer properties.
Red clover is still used today to treat hot flashes caused by menopause. It’s also used to treat stiffness and pain from arthritis, hair issues, and osteoporosis.
White clover has been used for blood purification and cleaning. A tea made from the plant could treat fevers and colds and be used for eyewash. And a tincture made from white leaves could treat gout.
This clover is even edible, although it’s an acquired taste. Fresh, white clover has high traces of vitamin C, protein, bioflavonoids, biotin, beta carotene, and inositol. However, many people are allergic, and in warm areas, the flowers can contain cyanide.
White clover is a popular source of livestock feed, although it and red clover are at risk of getting a fungus that can be harmful to horses. Another clover – alsike – can also cause health issues with livestock.
Clover Flower Symbolism
The Clover is most known for having three leaves, with a fourth leaf being a rare find. It’s also a popular symbol for Ireland and, more specifically, St. Patrick’s day.
The genus Trifolium translates to “tres” (three) and “folium” (leaf) – three-leaf. The word Clover has associations with Klaver (Dutch), Klee (German), clafre or cloefre (Anglo-Saxon), and klaibron (Proto-Germanic).
The closest association of clover’s origins is klawaz – a West Germanic word that means sticky sap – referring to the clover’s sticky juice.
The etymological meaning is Gaelic – seamrog – which means little clover.
Love and Marriage
Clover has often been an ingredient in divination and magic. In addition, it has associations with being able to attract and predict love, romance, and marriage.
Dreaming of clover was a prediction of a prosperous and happy marriage. A Wales belief is that a two-leaved clover, when found by accident and put under a pillow, could bring a prophetic dream of your future lover.
While in many European countries, young women and girls would put a four-leaf clover over the door. The first man to walk through would be the man she married. In Quebec, a similar story is to place the clover in your shoe. The first man she meets will have the name of her future mate.
Clover has also earned the symbolic meaning of hope, partially because it has been found in areas where it hadn’t existed before.
Hope was often depicted as a small child on tiptoe holding a clover in his hand. Unfortunately, the clover’s ability to “spontaneously appear” by spreading to new areas is considered an invasive species in many locations.
The clover is a symbolic amulet representing good luck. For example, the patron saint of Ireland used a cloverleaf to represent the Trinity, causing a four-leaf clover to be associated with St. Patrick’s day and good fortune.
Sacred Protective Symbol
Clovers have been considered a sacred symbol of protection in many cultures. For example, Druids and Celtic priests used a three-leaf clover – shamrock – to detect approaching evil spirits.
The Celtics believed clovers with four leaves chase away bad luck and offer protection to those who carry it. And in Paganism, the Celtic Triskelion – triple spiral motif – is a primary design inspired by the cloverleaf.
In Christianity, Eve took a four-leaf clover with her when God cast out her and Adam. When a person finds a four-leaf clover, it brings paradise into the person’s life.
Clover Color Meaning
Clovers can also have different meanings based on the flower color.
Trifolium pratense – the red clover – symbolizes money, success, protection, fidelity, exorcism, love, prosperity, and consecration. As a gift, it sends the message, “I promise.”
The white clover – Trifolium repens – also called Dutch white clover, three-leaved grass, moon clover, white shamrock, Saint Patrick’s herb, and seamroy. It symbolizes masculinity, good luck, a long and happy marriage, a promise, joyfulness, protection, prosperity, and lightheartedness.
Yellow flower clovers do not have any symbolic significance based on their color. For example, Trifolium dubium (little hop clover) and Trifolium Campestre (trefoil) are yellow-green and pretty but non-meaningful.
Clover Flower FAQ
Find out more about the clover flower with these frequently asked questions.
When Should You Give Someone a Clover Flower?
You can use red clover as a bouquet of hope. A white flower sends a message that you’re thinking of the recipient. It’s not common to see clovers in bouquets but rather potted plants. You can give it for any occasion as a good luck symbol.
Are Clover Flowers Fragrant?
Clover flowers are extremely fragrant and bring in various pollinators.
What Does a Clover Flower Tattoo Represent?
Clover tattoo meanings are more common as the leaf than the flower. Clover tattoos symbolize love, respect, wealth, health, time, hope, and luck.
Are Clover Flowers Poisonous?
Clover in colder climates is generally safe to eat, but it can be poisonous in warmer temperatures.
When are Clover Flowers in Season?
Clover flowers bloom from spring through fall.
How Much Water do Clover Flowers Need?
Clover needs a minimum of 30” of water a year, although 45” is better.
Clover is popular foliage for thick ground cover, livestock feed, and an amulet for good luck, fortune, and charm. Clover can form flowers in yellow, pink, red, and white. It has meanings of marriage and love, good luck, and hope.