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Shamrock Shake: Know Your Clovers

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Not to get all sappy, but we often don’t realize how much luck is all around us, all the time. Today we were planning to go on a shamrock search (say that ten times fast) in honor of Saint Patrick’s Day, but ended up finding bunches of clover lookalikes all over our own garden.

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They’re not the official shamrock — a name typically reserved for the clovers Trifolium dubium and Trifolium repens — but the three-leaved wood sorrel (Oxalis acetosella) that we saw today is usually included in shamrock roundups around this time of year. And then there are the four-leaf clovers, which are not interchangeable with shamrocks. The former is a mutation of the standard clover; a lucky four-leaf specimen occurs once for every 10,000 three-leaf sprouts.

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We’ve always considered our oxalis to be weeds. We usually yank them out (except for the ones growing next to the barrel cactus, ouch) but after reading about the endearing qualities of this species, we might want to keep them around long enough to see their delicate, self-pollinating flowers in bloom.

Things we didn’t realize until today: Wood sorrel pulls its leaves tighter together at night and also during times of intense sun and rain. We stuck a bunch in our beer tonight, and they looked like a bouquet of green upside-down hearts.

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Leaves remain green throughout winter. All parts of this often-foraged plant are edible, and can be eaten as a pleasantly acidic addition to salads, an aphrodisiac (according to Handbook of Edible Weeds by James A. Duke) and a dessert if you boil the tubers.

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It’s a cute little fighter. Maybe we’ll start appreciating these ubiquitous shamrocks (and false shamrocks) more than just once a year.

Wanna be showered in shamrocks? Check out our dedicated clover pages over at the Community Garden
Oxalis acetosella (wood sorrel)
Trifolium repens (white clover)