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(Redirected from Cloves)
This article is about spice; the word clove is also used to describe a segment of a head of garlic, a clove sigaret is a cigarette that has been flavored with clove oil, and a clove hitch is a useful kind of knot.

Dried cloves
Scientific classification
Species:S. aromaticum

Template:Taxobox section binomial botany

Cloves are the aromatic dried flower buds of a tree (Syzygium aromaticum, sometimes included in the genus Eugenia) in the family Myrtaceae. It is native to Indonesia, used as a spice in virtually all the world's cuisine. The name derives from French clou, a nail, as the buds vaguely resemble small irregular nails in shape. Cloves are harvested primarily in Indonesia and Madagascar; it is also grown in Zanzibar, India, Sri Lanka, and the "Spice Islands" (Moluccas, Indonesia known as the Bandas Islands).

The clove tree is an evergreen which grows to a height ranging from 10-20 m, having large oval leaves and crimson flowers in numerous groups of terminal clusters. The flower buds are at first of a pale color and gradually become green, after which they develop into a bright red, when they are ready for collecting. Cloves are harvested when 1.5-2 cm long, and consist of a long calyx, terminating in four spreading sepals, and four unopened petals which form a small ball in the centre.


Missing image
Cloves drying by the road in the village of Wahai, Seram in Indonesia

Cloves can be used in cooking either whole or in a ground form, but they are extremely strong so they are used sparingly. The spice is used throughout Europe and Asia and is smoked in cigarettes (also known as kreteks) in Indonesia and in occasional coffee bars in the West, mixed with marijuana to create marijuana spliffs, and by members of the goth subculture.


In the 3rd century BC, Chinese leaders in the Han Dynasty required those who addressed them to chew cloves so as to freshen their breath. Cloves, along with nutmeg and pepper, were highly prized in Roman times, and Pliny the Elder complained that "there is no year in which India does not drain the Roman Empire of fifty million sesterces". Cloves were traded by Arabs during the Middle Ages in the profitable Indian Ocean trade. In the late 15th century, Portugal took over the Indian Ocean trade, including cloves, due to the Treaty of Tordesillas with Spain and a separate treaty with the sultan of Ternate.

The trade later became dominated by the Dutch in the 17th century. With great difficulty the French succeeded in introducing the clove tree into Mauritius in the year 1770; subsequently the cultivation was introduced into Guiana, Brazil, most of the West Indies, and Zanzibar, where the majority of cloves today are grown.

In Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries, cloves were worth at least their weight in gold, due to the high price of import.

Active compounds

Essential oil of clove has anesthetic and antimicrobial qualities, and is sometimes used to eliminate bad breath or to ameliorate the pain of a bad tooth. It, or its main component eugenol, is used by dentists to anesthetize the gum before injecting Novocaine or similar anesthetics, and is the characteristic odor of a dentist's eo:Kariofilo ja:クローブ nl:Kruidnagel nn:Nelliktre pl:Goździki


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