A 21-leaf clover discovered on June 3 by Iwate prefecture farmer Shigeo Obara has shattered the Guinness world record for most leaves on a clover stem (Trifolium repens L.). The current official record is held by an 18-leaf clover that Obara found in his garden in May 2002.
The record-breaking clover's 21 leaves each measure about 1 centimeter long and overlap each other like rose petals on a 3-centimeter stem.
Obara, a former food crop researcher, has been conducting independent research on clovers in his garden for over 50 years. He first became interested in clover mutations after discovering an unusual patch of 4-leaf clovers in 1951. Since then, Obara has been crossbreeding the plants in his garden to research the genes associated with leaf count, color, pattern and size.
Obara plans to file a new application with Guinness, although he is considering waiting a while. "We are likely to find clovers with more leaves," he says. Last month, a family member claimed to have found a 27-leaf clover, but the discovery was not confirmed.
While some say that 4-leaf clovers symbolize happiness, 5-leaf clovers symbolize wealth and 6-leaf clovers symbolize fame, it is unclear what 21-leaf clovers symbolize.