Mys­tery sur­rounds sham­rock

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Countryfile -

AS ST PA­TRICK’S Day ap­proaches I thought I would write about the sham­rock – the na­tional em­blem of Ire­land. But what is a sham­rock? Well that is a hotly dis­puted ques­tion and still re­mains a mys­tery as to which na­tive plant in Ire­land can be named the sham­rock. It could be one of a few plant species – namely the white and red clover, black medick, wood sor­rel or the favourite the lesser yel­low tre­foil. All of them have three lobed leaves and are quite com­mon across Ire­land and in the south east re­gion as well. The lesser yel­low tre­foil has yel­low flow­ers and is a small plant, as is the black medick. The wood sor­rel has whitish flow­ers and car­pets wood­lands dur­ing the spring, while the red and white clovers are more fa­mil­iar in lawns and grassy ar­eas. The English word sham­rock was used as a much closer pro­nun­ci­a­tion of the Ir­ish word “seam­rog” which means ‘lit­tle clover’. The three-leaved sham­rock was thought to have been used by St Pa­trick to il­lus­trate the Holy Trin­ity to the peo­ple of Ire­land.

For more in­for­ma­tion con­tact Owen Leyshon, Rom­ney Marsh Coun­try­side Project, tele­phone 01797 367934 or log on to

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