On the Matters’ 37-acre farm in Glenburnie on South Australia’s Limestone Coast there is a patch of clover the family searches for lucky omens.
In the six years they have been there, Marie Matters said they had found about 10 four-leaf clovers, but never a five-leaf.
Now they have found two in six months.
Except it was not a four-leaf, but five.
“She was super excited and came and showed me, and then took it to school and showed all her school mates,” Ms Matter said.
Five months earlier, Marie’s husband Noe found another five-leaf clover, the family’s first.
He had been looking since he was a kid, visiting his grandparents in the Swiss mountains.
“It’s something my grandmother put me onto because, just randomly as a kid when I was hanging out with her, I found a four-leaf clover and she said ‘oh my God, that’s amazing, you’re so lucky’,” Mr Matter said.
Very rare chance
Plant physiologist Dr Nigel Warwick said to find a five-leaflet clover — proper term, leaf refers to the group of leaflets — is a one in a 25,000 chance. Other reports have suggested one in a million.
He suggested for these clovers to occur there must have been a random division in the plant’s cells.
“You’ve got thousands of cells dividing to produce the leaf,” Dr Warwick said.
“Sometimes there’s just a random division in the wrong direction with a cell and you might end up on that little apical meristem with something that’s going to produce four, five, or six leaflets instead.
Despite the strong association with Ireland, clovers are found all over the world.
The subterranean clover is very common throughout south-eastern Australia and is an important part of a nutritious diet for livestock as a protein-packed legume.
As for their roots, Tomás de Bhaldraithe from the Irish Australian Association said shamrocks, or young clovers, are an important part of Irish tradition.
“It’s woven into the mythology that St Patrick used it to explain the Holy Trinity, the three-leaf Shamrock,” Mr de Bhaldraithe said.
“There is [also] the association of good luck and fortune in Irish mythology.”
And a five-leaf clover?
The Matters are keeping the five-leaf clover safe in a book for the time being and plan to preserve it in resin.