Let us help you find a four-leaf clover!

Image of a four leafed clover in a patch of grass surrounded by other flowers and blades of grass.

Did you know that only one out of 10,000 clovers has four leaves? This might make your St. Patrick’s Day hunt a bit harder than you think. Let us help you find your “lucky” four-leafed clover … with science!

First, you need to find the perfect place. You can find around 200 clovers in a plot of clover-growing grass or field that spreads about one-square foot, which means that a space of about 12-square feet should contain a four-leaf clover.

Now, how can you find it? This is the perfect example of performing what cognitive psychologists call a visual search—the common task of looking for something in a cluttered visual environment. The item that the observer is searching for is termed the target (in this case the lucky clover) while non-target items are termed distractors (the three-leafed clovers). In this particular environment the clover happens to be perfectly camouflaged with too many distractors, so we can't immediately spot it.

The best way to find a target is to look for that very particular characteristic that would make it stand out. When scanning that patch, don’t examine every one of those 10,000 leaves. Instead, stare at the patch without focusing on any one detail that deviates from the overall pattern of leaves. This increases the odds that a four-leafed clover will jump out at you!