There are a number of tricks that can be used to increase the chances of finding a four leaf clover, including increasing one's visual observation skills and practicing pattern recognition. A symbol of luck in many cultures, the four leaf clover is a genetic mutation of the white clover plant, which causes it to have four leaves instead of the more usual three. It is also possible to find clovers with more leaves — some people have reported finding seven leaf clovers!
Identifying four leaf clovers is a form of pattern recognition. When people scan a clover patch in search of that elusive genetic mutant, they are trying to find the visual object that breaks the pattern. One way to enhance the ability to find four leaf clovers is to play games that sharpen pattern recognition. Memory games can also be helpful. Examples are “spot the differences” illustrations that often pop up in the local newspaper, word games like Boggle® that require finding patterns in random letters, and card games such as Concentration. Making art can also help people strengthen their pattern recognition skills.
Another tactic involves practicing with other patterns in the natural world. Simply walking down the street provides many opportunities for looking for patterns; people can search for coins or spots of gum on the sidewalk, for example. Once people start actively identifying patterns and looking for variations, it can sometimes be hard to stop. This increase in visual observation skills also enhances cognitive skills in general, incidentally, and can be an one way to improve critical thinking skills.
Once a person has had some practice with looking for patterns, pattern recognition skills can be taken to the clover patch to seek out a four leaf clover. The bigger a clover patch, the better. It can be good to start with a quick visual scan of the patch, followed by tousling the patch with one foot to move the clover plants around. This sometimes uncovers four leaved specimens lurking near the surface.
After looking at patch as a whole, people can start looking in smaller sections to identify four leaf clovers. Breaking a patch up into a grid can be helpful for searching, as it reduces the risk of checking the same spot twice. Some people find it helpful to look out of the corner of the eye, as sometimes focusing straight at the pattern makes it difficult to identify the variations that betray a four leaf clover.
It's also important to avoid straining the eyes in a search for a four leaf clover. People should periodically look into the distance and focus, the same tactic used by people who work with computers to reduce eye strain. Another trick is to move the eyes in the head to focus to the right, left, top, and bottom. This can also freshen up the eyes and make it easier to find a four leaf clover.