Last Sunday, I answered a reader's question with advice about his ailing shamrock plant. Here in the United States, we give Oxalis regnellii the common name "shamrock," and that's what is being sold at area nurseries in preparation for St. Patrick's Day. But in Ireland, they call Trifolium dubium the shamrock, and I defer to them, no question. It grows wild in grassy areas in Ireland and England. But, according to the Irish Times,  Ireland is having a big problem this year in the wake of a severe shamrock shortage caused by frost damage this year: counterfeit shamrocks.

The bogus plants actually are Trifolium repens, or white clover, the weed that pops up in the spring on lawns across Long Island. This could cause potential embarrassment for Ireland, as Prime Minister Brian Cowen has just sent a shamrock plant to President Obama. If it turns out to be a clover weed, who knows what will happen on the political, international-relations front.

PHOTOS: X-Team at Huntington's St. Patrick's Day parade

MORE PHOTOS: St. Patrick's Day parades around LI

BLOG: How to grow your own shamrocks

FOOD: 8 Irish restaurants for St. Patrick's Day

GUIDE: All you need to know about St. Patrick's Day on Long Island and in NYC

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Trifolium dubium, (lesser trefoil), the plant the Irish call "shamrock," left, and Trifolium repens (common white clover), the "counterfeit shamrock." (iStock, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Photos)