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St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, and maybe you’ve found yourself thinking about four-leaf clovers and trying to find one yourself. According to Irish tradition, those who find a four-leaf clover are destined for good luck, as each leaf in the clover symbolizes good omens for faith, hope, love, and luck for the finder.

A lesser-known fact about four-leaf clovers is that they aren’t the luckiest symbol after all. Irish legend indicates that those who find a five-leaf clover will actually have more luck and financial success than those who just find a four-leaf clover.

However, good luck can be hard to come by if you’re only relying on finding a four-leaf clover, let alone a five-leaf clover! The estimated statistical odds of finding a four-leaf clover on your first try is 10,000 to 1, and the odds skyrocket to 1,000,000 to 1 if you’re looking to find a five-leaf clover on your first try. (The majority of the clovers you see outside have only three leaves.)

Suppose you want to delve deeper into descriptive statistics and compare the odds of finding a four-leaf clover to the odds of finding a five-leaf clover. In what is known as an odds ratio, you can compare the odds of two events, where the odds of an event equals the probability-the-event-occurs divided by the probability-it-does-not-occur.

In this case, you would find that your odds ratio is 100, showing that it is much more likely for you to find a four-leaf than a five-leaf clover. You can conclude that the odds of finding a four-leaf clover are 100 times greater than your odds of finding a five-leaf clover. (But keep in mind the odds here: it’s still pretty difficult to find a four-leaf clover, especially over a three-leaf clover!)

Why Are Odds Ratios Important?

Odds ratios are not just important for comparing the odds of two events (like we did above with the clovers)—they also play an important role in logistic regression. With binary logistic regression (Stat > Regression > Binary Logistic Regression in Minitab Statistical Software), you can investigate the relationship between a binary response and one or more predictors. You can then use the odds ratio for the predictors to quantify how each predictor affects the probabilities of each response.

For example, suppose you are analyzing data from people who have found four-leaf clovers to determine whether the finder’s gender and age affect their finding abilities. You could create a logistic regression model with the following variables:

Variable Type Description
Find Binary response Equals 0 if the person did not find, and 1 if the person did find
Gender Binary response Equals 0 if the person is male, and 1 if the person is female
Age Continuous predictor Equals the person’s age

Suppose the logistic regression procedure declares both predictors to be significant. If gender has an odds ratio of 2.0, you conclude that the odds of a woman finding a four-leaf clover is twice the odds of a man finding a four-leaf clover. If age has an odds ratio of 1.05, you conclude that, for each additional year of the finder’s age, the odds of finding increase by 5%.

For each predictor variable in the logistic regression model, Minitab displays an odds ratio and a confidence interval for the odds ratio.

Of course, this is only a hypothetical example!  I’m not sure your age or gender really matters—I think finding a four-leaf clover is all about LUCK.  And that's pretty difficult to quantify!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! 

 

 

 

Comments for The Odds of Finding a Four-Leaf Clover

Name: Rita
Time: Sunday, March 25, 2012

I would like to comment on this concept of the odds of finding a four or five leaf clover I am 50 years of age now and I just found several four leaf clovers over the past several months until just recently last week I found 7 four leaf clovers and 1 five leaf clover all in the same day! Then the days before yesterday I found 2 four leaf clovers, and the again just yesterday I once again found 7 four leaf clovers and one five leaf clover!! I beg to differ I know that some people go their whole lives and never find not even one, which used to be the case when i was younger until I reached my early 30's. Now I just seem to be able to find them most of the time. In the past I have also found quite a few 6 leaf clovers and several 7 leaf clovers. I have even found 2 leaf clovers. I think once or twice I have even found clovers with 8 and 9 leafs I don't know if I just naturally find the clovers or if they find me?

Name: Carly Barry
Time: Monday, March 26, 2012

Wow! I'm impressed Rita! Congratulations on your many lucky clover finds. Like I say above-- I think finding lucky clovers is really all about luck (and that's pretty hard to quantify!). Can you share any secrets to your success? I'd love to increase my odds of finding one :)

Name: Maggie
Time: Friday, April 20, 2012

I don't know about odds ratios, but I can find 4 leafs easier than most people. Some days I find a dozen or more without even really trying as they catch my eye while I am walking past. I believe it is a function of field discrimination, as I can easily see them in patches when others cannot unless I point them out.

Name: Nancy Kimes
Time: Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The first four leaf clover I ever found was in Peru in 1999,
then I found 2 in Mount Shasta, CA. I am back in Peru and
today I found 7 four leaf clovers and 1, 5 leaf clover. What
are the odds of that? Peru has always been a magical place...
a spiritual jouney for me. But truly, what are the odds?

Name: Rachael
Time: Thursday, May 3, 2012

I just found 5 four-leaf clovers and 1 five-leaf clover within 3minutes. That happened when I got out of my car right after work, which before I left to go to this morning I found a four leaf clover. That is 6 four leaf ans 1 five leaf clovers in one day. I think my lawn has mutated clovers.

Name: Carly Barry
Time: Friday, May 4, 2012

Hi Nancy! It's challenging to figure out the odds of finding 7 4 leaf clovers and 1 5 leaf clover because those events are likely dependent, and without any sense of how those events are dependent, it's hard to calculate the probability. (For example, did you find all the clovers (both four and five-leaf) in close proximity or in the same general area? If so, this makes your events dependent.)

However, if the above events in Peru happened independent of each other, you can just multiply the odds of each event (odds of finding 7 four-leafs multiplied by the odds of finding 1 five leaf) to obtain your answer. (For independent events, the probability that all events will occur is the product of their individual probabilities).

I think you'll find that the probability of you finding 7 four-leaf clovers and 1 five-leaf clover on your first try will be very, very low! Thanks for reading my blog!

Name: Tom
Time: Sunday, May 6, 2012

Yesterday between my girls, my wife, and I we found 33 four leafs and 2 five leafs. I was telling our neighbor about this and she had never seen one. I went back, looked for less than a minute and brought one back to her. She was definitely impressed.

Name: Carly Barry
Time: Saturday, May 12, 2012

Hi Tom,
I'm impressed too! Thanks for reading and commenting!
-Carly

Name: Darlene
Time: Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My son is now 24... He has always been able to find 4 leaf clovers very easily. On the day he was leaving for a tour of duty in Iraq he found 26! (He came home safe!) I myself found 2 this Saturday, and 1 Monday, without looking for them! We were given the news today that my husbands bone scan was clear... His cancer has not spread to his bones! I don''t know what the odds are, but they have always seemed to be connected to good luck for our family!!

Name: Carly Barry
Time: Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Darlene - I'm happy to hear your son has returned home safely and your husband's prognosis includes good news! It seems that you and your son have really beaten the odds in finding so many four-leaf clovers! I hope good luck continues to come your way.
Thank you for reading!

Name: Janet
Time: Friday, May 25, 2012

I have found over 15 four leaf clovers without trying to find them within the last month and today I found 2 five leaf clovers.

Name: Patricia
Time: Wednesday, May 30, 2012

In the past 30 years I have found around about 2000.00 I find one just about every time I go by a clover patch.

Name: Carly Barry
Time: Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Interesting! I'm surprised to hear of so many of you finding high amounts of not only four-leaf clovers, but five-leaf clovers! Are you finding the lucky clovers in the same areas over and over again?

It's also interesting to see it demonstrated that five-leafs are generally harder to find than four-leafs.

Name: Doug
Time: Saturday, June 2, 2012

Your article says that the odds of finding a 4 leaf clover are 1 in 10,000 and the odds of finding a 5 leaf clover are 1 in 1,000,000.
On Wednesday the 30th of May, believe it or not, I had the good fortune of finding 7, 4 leaf clovers & 1, 5 leaf clover without any effort of looking for them.

Name: sandra
Time: Thursday, June 7, 2012

I have a patch of 4 leaf clovers in my front yard. I have found a few in my back yard. Today, I found 2 five leaf clovers in the patch in the front yard. Maybe I will win the lottery????

Name: Clyde
Time: Saturday, June 16, 2012

The picture of those clovers are wrong. Genuine 4-leaf, 5-leaf, etc. clovers come from the white clover plant. Those pictured are the "imposter" ones.

Name: Carly Barry
Time: Monday, June 18, 2012

Hi Clyde - Thanks for pointing this out! I wasn't aware that most 4 and 5 leaf clovers came from the white clover plant.

Name: Tony Wargo
Time: Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hi Carly,
I made this video last week and wanted to know your perspective on it. In it, I walk right up to a 4-Leaf clover as my first find and then immediately find a 6-Leaf clover. I proceed to find many 5 and 4 leaf clovers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PPNVtrqaLQ

I have always had an unexplanable ability to tap into a source of energy that I use to find clovers.

I actually wrote a book that was recently published called, "Lucky Life Lessons: A Guide to Cultivating Luck and Positive Energy into Your Life"

I also sell 4-Leaf clovers at: www.artofwargo.com

I'm just curious to hear a statistical analysis about my "ability"

Tony Wargo

Name: Carly
Time: Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hi Tony - Cool video! I'm not sure I've ever heard of anyone finding as many 4, 5, and even 6-leaf clovers in one outing before! Do you frequently find so many lucky clovers at one time? I'm also curious to whether or not you find the clovers in different locations (different cities miles apart or in the same general location each time?)

Statistically, you seem to be beating the odds over and over again! Since you've found so many lucky clovers, have you noticed an increase in personal luck and good fortune?

Name: Marlene Hughes
Time: Friday, July 6, 2012

I have been collecting four, five, six leaf clovers for three years now. The other day I found three-7 leaf clovers in one patch!!! I was so excited. Finding clovers in my own yard is so therapuetic for me, I am sad when the snow falls and I have to wait until breakup to start looking again:-)

Name: Carly
Time: Friday, July 6, 2012

Hi Marlene - thanks for your comment! Wow, finding three 7-leaf clovers in one patch must be extra lucky! I'm sure the odds of such an event are really low!

Name: Lesley
Time: Monday, July 9, 2012

I found one four leaf clover today and so excited

Name: charie L
Time: Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hi. maybe nothing out of the ordenary but i've got a 3 leaf, 4 leaf & 5 leaf & their stems all come from the SAME stalk & were joined to the same root.

Name: marylee
Time: Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I just googled 'finding a four leaf clover', and found this article. I have found many four leaf clovers in my yard. I don't go looking for them because every time I do, I never find any. I find them as I'm walking down my walkway to my car or from my car. I feel compelled to look down and see a four leaf clover. I am a visual person, so maybe that has something to do with it. I see alot of people seem to find more than one in the same spot. I still believe that it brings luck, as up to now, I have had very good luck and I'm 57 years old. ( I'd like to believe this.) heee

Name: Lynn Downey
Time: Thursday, August 2, 2012

I find four-leaf clovers everywhere, and have found many other 5, 6, and 7 -leaf clovers. My youngest child finds them also, he is 11 year old now. They do come up same place every year if you have them in your yard. I just look down and there they are, I live in Iowa, I've found them in fields, yards, parks, out hot air ballooning. I do consider myself a very lucky person. I've always said if I was at concert of 100,000 people and they threw a frisbe, it would hit me! How do others save their clovers? I put them on paper and tape them down with scotch tape and write date and where found. But older ones seem to not stay after awhile. Lynn

Name: Deborah
Time: Saturday, August 4, 2012

I am so excited I found 5-5 Leaf clovers and 5-4 leaf clovers in a patch in my back yard !!! I am going to look for more tomorrow in the area I found the others as darkness was falling an I wasent able to thoughly look through the patch.

Name: Carly Barry
Time: Monday, August 6, 2012

@ Lynn- I've found a good way to save clovers is to dry them like you would flowers, and then store them between the pages of a book.

Name: Bonnie Anne Jewell
Time: Saturday, August 11, 2012

On Friday, July 27 2012 my 16 month old granddaughter, Trinity pulled up a bunch of clovers and to my surprise there were three, four leaf clovers. We were at a children's park, in Portsmouth,NH. Then we went back on Thursday, August 9, 2012, to the same area and I found four more, four leaf clovers. I have them pressed in wax paper with date and place found.
I've never had luck with taping any plant type materials, but wax paper
works great. Just use two pieces of paper, put the clover, flower,leaf or any plant between them, then place a heavy object over the entire
object. Let it sit there, for as long as it takes for that plant to completely dry out. Now, your ART work can be put into a beautiful picture frame for everyone to see how LUCKY we all are!

Name: Doug Van Reeth
Time: Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My wife and I walk our dog every morning to the end of our cul-de-sac here in Portland Maine. Over the summer I've casually collected about 16 four-leaf clovers in this huge patch. This morning I reached down to pluck a four-leafer, and there beside it was a five-leafer! And then another, and then...a THIRD five-leafer. In a patch of clover 12 inches square we found 3 four-leafers and 3 five-leafers! The Mutant Patch! What are those odds?!
Doug Van Reeth

Name: Carly Barry
Time: Monday, August 20, 2012

Hi Doug! It's challenging to figure out those exact odds because each event you list is dependent (found in the same general area, same time of day, etc.).

However, if you read the comments above, you'll see that many people find multiple lucky clovers in the same patch over time. So maybe there is something to this - the odds might be a bit better for finding multiple over time in the same proximity over multiple tries, but I can't really say for sure. (Also, keep in mind the odds that I list in the blog post are for finding a 4 or 5 leaf clover on your "first try.")

Thanks for reading!

Name: pam gray
Time: Friday, September 7, 2012

I have always found clovers easily. I have 4s 5s and a few 6s. On my wedding anniversary a few weeks ago I found 28 within 20 min. 5 of those were 5 leaf. I have found them in Pa. and Ca. where my son lives. I also believe its thereputic. I give many away, it makes people happy!

Name: Terri
Time: Saturday, September 8, 2012

Over the last 2 years, I have found many 4 leaf clovers. I walk my dog every day, and now I can't pass a patch of clover without looking down. It seems interesting to me that if I bend down to look, I can't find them very easily, but just walking along and looking casually, they "jump out at me"! The first time I found a 5-leafer I was ecstatic.

When I found a single branch with 3, 4 and 5 leaf clovers on it, I brought it home and put it in a glass. It grew for quite a while, and actually produced NEW 4 leafs on it. Yesterday I found my first SIX leaf clover - I'm amazed at how many other people are finding them too! (By the way, the last 2 years do seem to have been very lucky for me...)

Name: Diane
Time: Wednesday, October 17, 2012

In the first few minutes of a trip to a beautiful island I found one without looking for it. It just happened to be growing in the rubble of an old smelter beside a piece of oxydizing copper ore.

Name: Miracle
Time: Friday, November 9, 2012

For those looking for their first clover: I find then most often in the spring when patches are growing quickly. In my experience it also depends on the kind of clover. I find 4+ leaves on white clover with the most frequency. Also don't be discouraged, the first one is always the hardest to find! Good luck!

Name: Jeff
Time: Thursday, January 17, 2013

I'm farsighted and once in 1987 while walking along a clover lined path with a friend I actually spotted a four leaf clover while walking. The cool part was having a witness to this lucky but unlikely event.

Name: Anthea Wood
Time: Saturday, September 7, 2013

Pleased to see all these posts about four leafed clover. Most people I know don't believe they exist. When I was young my family often went camping in Lancashire, UK and on one occasion I found a number of four leafed clover leaves all in one patch. I have never found any more since.

Name: Rita
Time: Monday, November 18, 2013

Today while walking at the West Hartford reservoir, I was fortunate enough to site my first 4 leaf clover. I thought that was special until further along the walk, I found another 4 leaf and one 5 leaf clover. I don't care what anyone says....One has to feel lucky!

Name: amy
Time: Friday, February 21, 2014

I just found 14 four leaf clovers and 4 five leaf clovers! This may sound nuts but its the law of attraction, I caught myself thinking "3 leaf" as i sifted through them, and i realized that i was focusing all my energy thinking "3 leaf" , so i started thinking "4 leaf" and I swear I started pulling them suckers left and right,, Give it a try, the law of attraction is real, check out the book The Secret!!

Name: brandy reynolds
Time: Friday, April 4, 2014

My boyfriend and I have a special clover patch in our friends yard that we tell no one about.the first time welooked we found seventeen. We found thirty yesterday and a five leaf clover too.I tape them in plastic clear tape and give them to friends and family.they put smiles on peoples faces .especially if they have never seen one before.

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