Shamrock vs Clover: Difference and Comparison

Trifolium species are wild and diverse. The plant type has several uses and advantages and has a long historical background. The plants fix nitrogen in the soil. The plant type has several further types. The two common and popular plant species of Trifolium are shamrock and clover.

Key Takeaways

  1. Shamrocks are a specific type of clover, associated with the Irish and St. Patrick’s Day.
  2. Clovers are a larger plant group, with over 300 species, while shamrocks refer to the trifoliate white clover.
  3. Both shamrocks and clovers are part of the Fabaceae family, but “shamrock” carries cultural and historical significance.

Shamrock vs Clover

Shamrock is a specific type of clover with three leaves, and it is used as a symbol of Ireland. Shamrocks are smaller than other clovers and have a more delicate appearance. Clover, is a term used to describe any plant in the Trifolium genus. It is used as a forage crop for livestock.

Shamrock vs Clover

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Shamrock is a symbol of Irish culture. It acts as a central symbol in the celebrations of Ireland. The most important celebration in Ireland is Saint Patrick’s day. It is used as a metaphor for the Christian Holy Trinity. The Catholic religion of Ireland follows the green colour which is also associated with Shamrock.

On the other hand, the clover is a symbol of luck, faith, love, and hope. There are over 300 species of clover available. The plant comes from a family of Fabaceae and a subfamily of Fabaceae. The tribe is trifoliate. Clovers are eaten raw and cooked, and even the roots are used in cooking. The Irish folklore has distinct mentions of Clover.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonShamrockClover
Family OxalidaceaeFabaceae
Subfamily FaboideaeFaboideae
Scientific name Trifolium dubium and Trifolium repens Trifolium
Number of leaves ThreeMore than three
UsesShamrocks are given in the bouquet of Irish weddingsClovers are chopped and eaten raw or cooked and were also used to heal sick people and for other religious purposes

What is Shamrock?

Shamrock is a young sprig. It refers to the species Trifolium dubium and Trifolium repens. The former is a lesser clover form, while the latter is a white clover form. Species like Medicago lupulina, Oxalis acetoselia, and Trifolium pratense are also known as shamrocks. Shamrock is a symbol of Ireland. It is used as a metaphor for the Christian Holy Trinity.

The term Shamrock is derived from an Irish word called seamróg which means the diminutive of the Irish word seamair óg and implies young clover. Shamrock even has medicinal properties. The plant was used as a popular motif in Victorian times. The plant was first named by John Gerard. He referred to the plant as three-leaved grass or Meadow Trefoil.

Shamrock has a historical background. It was used by Saint Patrick to explain and illustrate the doctrine of Christianity. Shamrock has a history as a folk symbol. Several pictures of Saint Patrick depict him driving the snakes out of Ireland with a sprig of Shamrock in one hand and the cross in another. This visual concept of triskele that is used by Saint Patrick through Shamrock explains the Trinity.

Shamrock is associated with Saint Patrick’s day. This day is observed as a national holiday in Irish. It is celebrated with parades and a custom of wearing a Shamrock on the day. Shamrock is also a national symbol of rival militias as an emblem. The Irishman has adopted green as a revolutionary colour which is also associated with Shamrock.


What is Clover?

Clover is referred to as a plant of the genus Trifolium. The term Trifolium has a Latin origin where tres means three and folium mean leaf. Clover is also commonly known as a trefoil. The plant is found in the temperate northern hemisphere region and also in South America and Africa with higher altitudes. The plant comes from a family of Fabaceae and a subfamily of Fabaceae. The tribe is trifoliate.

The characteristics of the plant are that they are small, biennial, annual, or short-lived perennial herbaceous plants. The maximum height of these plants is 30 cm. The plant is found in trifle form which is three leaves but also has other types like monofoil, bifoil, hexafoil, cinquefoil, hexafoil, and other types of leaf structures.

Clovers are associated with historical background. Clovers with four leaflets are considered lucky. Clovers can have several leaflets like five, six, seven, eight, and many more. The highest leaflet in a Clover is recorded as 56, which was set on Guinness World Records on 10th May 2009.

Clover is eaten by many wild animals like birds, birds, and other game animals. Some Native Americans also ate Clover raw and cooked, and even the roots are used in cooking. The seeds were also used to make bread and tea. Clover is also used in a common idiom that goes as “to be in Clover” which means to live a life that has comfort, ease, or prosperity.


Main Differences Between Shamrock and Clover

  1. Shamrock is found in Ireland, while Clover is found in the temperate northern hemisphere region and also in South America and Africa with higher altitudes.
  2. Shamrock has three leaves, while Clover can have three, four, five, six, seven, and up to fifty-six leaves.
  3. Shamrocks refer to a specific plant type, while Clover is a broader umbrella term used to refer to a range of plants.
  4. Shamrock is derived from the Gaelic word “seamróg” which means ‘little clover’ while clover refers to the Trifolium family, which means three for ‘tri’ and leaf for ‘folium.
  5. Shamrock has a biblical history of St. Patrick, while clover has a biblical history of Adam and Eve.
  6. Shamrock is a symbol of Ireland, and Clover signifies good luck, faith, love, and hope.
Difference Between Shamrock and Clover

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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