Cloves are the aromatic flower buds of a tree in the family Myrtaceae, Syzygium aromaticum. They are native to the Maluku Islands (or Moluccas) in Indonesia, and are commonly used as a spice. Cloves are available throughout the year due to different harvest seasons in different countries.
A major component of clove taste is imparted by the chemical eugenol, and the quantity of the spice required is typically small. It pairs well with cinnamon, all spice, vanilla, red wine and basil, as well as onion, citrus peel, star anise, or peppercorns.
The clove tree is an evergreen that grows up to 8–12 m tall, with large leaves and crimson flowers grouped in terminal clusters. The flower buds initially have a pale hue, gradually turn green, then transition to a bright red when ready for harvest. Cloves are harvested at 1.5–2.0 cm long, and consist of a long calyx that terminates in four spreading sepals, and four unopened petals that form a small central ball.
Cloves may be used to give aromatic and flavor qualities to hot beverages, often combined with other ingredients such as lemon and sugar. They are a common element in spice blends such as pumpkin pie spice and speculoos spices.
Cloves are used in traditional medicine as the essential oil, which is used as an anodyne (analgesic) mainly for dental emergencies and other disorders. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy.
Where does it grow?
The islands of Zanzibar, Pemba (now part of Tanzania) and Indonesia are the major producers of clove in the world. In India, clove is mostly grown in the hilly tracts of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka. The production of clove in India during 2001-02 was around 1,047 tons from an area of 1,891 hectares.