The Impresa Nacional Casa da Moeda (INCM) has launched a new series of collector coins whose focus will be on the endangered flora once prevalent in Portugal and on the Iberian Peninsula in general. The series concentrates not only on the flora which is under threat but on the threatened species of fauna as well. The coin series’ primary purpose is to promote knowledge and preservation of endangered species of national fauna and flora and to find ways to combat, halt, or even reverse their endangerment.
The first coin issued in the series features the four-leaf clover (Marsilea quadrifolia), which is a semi-aquatic plant species occurring mainly in the riparian areas. Marsilea quadrifolia is native to Europe, once found in abundance from Portugal and Spain, to France and Northern Italy, and east all the way to the European region of Turkey — though it is often associated far more with the Emerald Isles of Ireland. The first introduction of this plant to North America was first detected in Connecticut in 1860, in what was an introduction that was likely intentional. However, there was some speculation at this time about whether it was introduced by Irish immigrants or that it may have been introduced by migrating Siberian aquatic birds.
Often referred to as the European water clover or water shamrock, the plant is an aquatic fern which anchors itself to the muddy bottoms of quiet, shallow lakes and streams. They can occasionally reach 30 centremetres (one foot) in height if the plant is rooted deeply with the leaves resembling a four-leaf clover, giving it the common name water shamrock. The four leaflets are triangular-obovate in shape and can range from deep green with patterns of lighter shades to a solid pale green. This particular plant prefers light sandy and medium soils and can grow in semi-shaded light woodland areas, usually with no shade, but it does require moist or wet soil and is capable of growing in water. In areas of Europe where the temperatures are rising and causing some of the habitats which the water clover thrive in to dry up and become less fertile, the four-leaf clover is currently in a critical and marked state of regression, especially in Portugal. The lesser abundance of the water clover is also due to man-made alterations and destruction of its habitat due to an encroachment of people who are building homes and structures in more rural and previously unspoiled areas.
The coin is designed by artist Catarina Sobral, who depicts a collection of water clovers with patterns of familiar lighter linear markings often seen on variants of the clover leaves. The text TREVO DE 4 FOLHAS (4 LEAF CLOVER) is placed on the lower left edge of the coin under the design. The reverse includes a more inclusive image of the clovers and shows the rooted clovers and their slim stems. The denomination of 5€ is seen to the right of the primary design with the crest of Portugal placed just under the denomination.
|14 g||30 mm||Brilliant Unc.||
|.925 Silver||14 g||30 mm||Proof with applied colour||
The coin is available on the 19th September with part of the revenue from the sale of each coin benefitting the environmental fund which is designated by the Institute of Nature Conservation and Forestry. The Proof and colour coins are encapsulated and presented in an environmentally friendly display made of native Portuguese cork with a Perspex base. For additional information about this coin and others offered by the Impresa Nacional Casa da Moeda, please visit their website.