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14 September 2008 @ 06:14 pm
The ultimate lucky charm: The 20 leaf clover's secret.  

Original Article Here (by Fujiyoshi, Ayako and Oogawa, Norinobu: Yomiuri Shinbun)


The ultimate lucky charm: The 20 leaf clover's secret.

A four leaf clover is said to be lucky but astonishingly, a 21 leaf clover was discovered in Iwata prefecture's Hanamaki City while a 23 leaf clover was found in Hamamatsu City.

How is such a world-record class multi-leaf clover born?

One step into Agriculture professional Kobara Shigeo's (age 83) clover field in Hanamaki City is enough to leave a person bewildered. Four to five green leaves are common and not unusual, while clovers with more than ten are far from rare. The 21 leaf clover was also found in this field, six months ago.

About sixty years ago, after the creation of city's agricultural school, a cluster of four to nine leaf clovers were found in the cultivated field where the breeding stock used to research animal fodder was grown. He knew intuitively that it was a matter of heredity. Transplanting and cross-fertilizing many times, he investigated the appearance ratio of leaves. "Multi-leaf clovers have a hereditary quality." He established this scientific proof and then in 1981 he received his Agriculture PHD from Hokkaido University and became known as a clover expert.

Since multi-leaf clovers in particular are weak, he pulled up weeds as often as possible and then chose only the strongest ones to raise and keep. After many generations, the clover began to reproduce naturally and now the leaf count has multiplied upwards of 12 and 16.

Up until that time America was in the lead with a fourteen leaf clover, but in 2002 one with eighteen leaves was found in Kobara's field and toppled the American Guiness World Record. "Theoretically 30 leaves is not an impossibility. Only, searching in the fields and counting leaves one by one is very difficult," he gave with a bitter smile.

The Japan Grassland Scientific Society President and top instructor in Iwate prefecture, Saiga Suguru explains, "In a normal three leaf clover, the hereditary nature of the clover suppresses any other leaves from appearing. In extreme conditions, though, the restraint is lifted and a multi-leaf one appears. Find that one, breed it and what is the result? The restraint was lifted to 20 leaves or more."

Hamamatsu City's East Ward's Miyaji Yoshitaka (age 67) found a 23 leaf clover in his garden at home in May of this year. Miyaji's wife, Tomiko (age 61), had a first encounter with a four leaf clover five years before on a roadside, where she pinched off the root and brought it home. She planted it in a bowl and left it alone until one day, she noticed seven leaves poking from the stem. After that, more leaves continued to appear. At that time, they divided the roots and planted it into the garden. "Nowadays, I give it more attention than I give my wife," he says with a laugh.

Given the name Clover of Limitless Happiness, people in hospitals and students preparing for exams are being presented with these good luck charms. Local Suzuki Branch sponsored Running long jumper Ikeda Kumiko, of the Beijing Olympics this year, was sent a seven leaf clover and a wish for good luck by Miyaji for the 7 meter jump. She sent a letter thanking him shortly after.

The 23 leaf clover's application for the Guiness Book of World Records is currently underway. Hamamatsu Flower Park's President, Sahara Yoshihiko gives his praise. "To find such a mutation is such an incredible rarity. With it should come equally rare luck," he states with congratulations.

Notes: I wonder just how many times I used the word "clover" in that translation. To think that this man spent over 60 years of his life researching these plants - if that isn't dedication, then what is? Ah, to be a scientist.

In any case, I hope you found it as interesting a discovery as I did. :) You can see more photographs at the following websites.

Guiness World Record Site
Asahi Paper - Kobara kneeling in his field.