A small evergreen tree, pyramidal, trunk soon divides into
large branches covered with a smooth greyish bark. The leaves
are large, entire, oblong, lanceolate (always bright green
colour), which stand in pairs on short root-stalks. When
bruised the leaves are very fragrant. The flowers grow in
bunches at end of branches. Cloves (Caryophyllum aromaticus)
are actually the dried buds of the clove tree.
At the start of the rainy season long greenish buds
appear; from the extremity of these the corolla comes
which is of a lovely rosy peach colour; as the corolla
fades the calyx turns yellow, then red. The calyces,
with the embryo seed, are at this stage beaten from the
tree and when dried are the cloves of commerce. The flowers
have a strong refreshing odour. If the seeds are allowed
to mature, most of the pungency is lost. Each berry has
only one seed. The trees fruit usually about eight or
nine years after planting. The whole tree is highly aromatic.
Clove trees absorb an enormous amount of moisture, and
if placed near water their weight is visibly increased
after a few hours; dishonest dealers often make use of
this knowledge in their dealings, and the powdered stems
are often sold as pure powdered Cloves. In commerce the
varieties are known by the names of the localities in
which they are grown. Formerly Cloves were often adulterated,
but as production increased the price lowered and fraud
Used in China for more than 2000 years, cloves is believed
to be an aphrodisiac.
The spice was introduced into Europe from the fourth
to the sixth century. The finest cloves come from Molucca
and Pemba, where the trees grow better than anywhere
else, but they are also imported from the East and West
Indies, Mauritius and Brazil.
Healing uses for Cloves
The eugenol in clove
makes the herb effective as an antiseptic and painkiller.
The herb's usefulness in combating
intestinal problems has yet to be confirmed in humans,
but laboratory studies indicate that it may be effective.
It is a carminative (cures flatulence) aromatic which
can be given in powder or as an infusion.
An ingredient in clove fights the
bacteria responsible for diarrhoea.
A nausea emesis
The most stimulating of aromatics
which can be given in powder or as an infusion. It
Heals cuts and bites
Clove oil is highly antiseptic. Studies
show that the oil in cloves can help kill several
strains of staphylococcus bacteria and one strain
of pseudomonas-organisms that can cause skin infections.