(L.) Merrill & Perry
Cloves are the aromatic flower buds of a tree in the family Myrtaceae, Syzygium aromaticum, native to the Maluku islands in Indonesia, commonly employed as spice. Cloves are harvested primarily in Indonesia, India, Madagascar, Zanzibar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka- and the largest producer, Pemba Island, just off the coast of Tanzania.
The clove tree is an evergreen growing to 8–12 m tall, having large leaves and sanguine flowers grouped in terminal clusters. The flower buds are begin a pale hue before gradually become green, then transitioning to a bright red and are ready for collection. Cloves are harvested when 1.5–2 cm long, and consist of a long calyx, terminating in four spreading sepals, and four unopened petals forming a small central ball.
Taxonomy and nomenclature
The scientific name of clove is Syzygium aromaticum, belonging to the genus Syzygium, tribe Syzygieae, and subfamily Myrtoideae of the family Myrtaceae. It is classified in the order of Myrtales, which belong to superorder Rosids, under Eudicots of Dicotyledonae. Clove is an Angiospermic plant and belongs to division of Magnoliophyta in the kingdom Plantae.
Cloves are used in the cuisine of Asian, African, and the Near and Middle East, lending flavour to meats, curries, and marinades, as well as compliment to fruit such as apples, pears, or rhubarb.
85% of cloves' powerful taste is imparted by the chemical eugenol; the quantity of the spice required is consequently typically relatively small. It pairs well with cinnamon, allspice, vanilla, red wine and basil, as well as onion, citrus peel, star anise or peppercorns.
The spice is used in a type of cigarette called kretek in Indonesia. Kreteks have been smoked throughout Europe, Asia and the United States. In 2009, clove cigarettes (as well as fruit and candy flavored cigarettes) were outlawed in the US. Cigarettes containing clove are now classified as cigars when sold in the US.
Clove may be used as an ant repellant.
They can be used as to make a fragrant pomander when combined with an orange.
Traditional medicinal uses
Cloves are used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine, Chinese medicine, and western herbalism and dentistry where the essential oil is used as an anodyne (painkiller) for dental emergencies. Cloves are used as a carminative, to increase hydrochloric acid in the stomach and to improve peristalsis. Cloves are also said to be a natural anthelmintic. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy when stimulation and warming are needed, especially for digestive problems. Topical application over the stomach or abdomen are said to warm the digestive tract. Applied to a cavity in a decayed tooth, it also relieves toothache.
In Chinese medicine cloves or ding xiang are considered acrid, warm and aromatic, entering the kidney, spleen and stomach meridians, and are notable in their ability to warm the middle, direct stomach qi downward, to treat hiccough and to fortify the kidney yang. Because the herb is so warming it is contraindicated in any persons with fire symptoms and according to classical sources should not be used for anything except cold from yang deficiency. As such it is used in formulas for impotence or clear vaginal discharge from yang deficiency, for morning sickness together with ginseng and patchouli, or for vomiting and diarrhea due to spleen and stomach coldness.
Cloves may be used internally as a tea and topically as an oil for hypotonic muscles, including for multiple sclerosis. This is also found in Tibetan medicine. Some recommend avoiding more than occasional use of cloves internally in the presence of pitta inflammation such as is found in acute flares of autoimmune diseases.
Modern medicinal uses and pharmaceutical preparations
||This section needs more medical references for verification or relies too heavily on primary sources. (July 2012)|
While it has been used historically in the West for dental pain, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reclassified eugenol (one of the chemicals contained in Clove Oil), downgrading its effectiveness rating. The FDA now believes there isn’t enough evidence to rate eugenol as effective for toothache pain. Clove oil seems to be safe when applied to the skin, however frequent and repeated application of clove oil in the mouth on the gums can sometimes cause damage to the gums, tooth pulp, mucous membranes and skin.
Studies to determine its effectiveness for fever reduction, as a mosquito repellent and to prevent premature ejaculation have been inconclusive. Clove may reduce blood sugar levels.
The buds have anti-oxidant properties.
Clove oil can be used to anesthetize fish, and prolonged exposure to higher doses (the recommended dose is 400 mg/l) is considered a humane means of euthanasia.
In addition, clove oil is used in preparation of some toothpastes, laxative pills and Clovacaine solution which is a local anesthetic and used in oral ulceration and anti-inflammations. Eugenol (or clove oil generally) is mixed with Zinc oxide to be a temporary filling.
Clove Stalks: They are slender stems of the inflorescence axis which show opposite decussate branching. Externally, they are brownish, rough and irregularly wrinkled longitudinally with short fracture and dry, woody texture.
Exhausted Cloves: Cloves from which almost or all of the oil has been removed by distillation. They yield no oil and are darker in color.
Until modern times, cloves grew only on a few islands in the Maluku Islands (historically called the Spice Islands), including Bacan, Makian, Moti, Ternate, and Tidore. In fact, it is believed that the oldest clove tree in the world, named "Afo," is found on Ternate—the tree being between 350 and 400 years old. Seedlings from this Afo tree were stolen by a Frenchman named Poivre in 1770, transferred to France, and then later to Zanzibar which is today the world's largest producer of cloves.
Until cloves were grown outside of the Maluku Islands, they were traded like oil, with a forced limit on exportation. As the Dutch East India Company consolidated its control of the spice trade in the 17th century they sought to gain a monopoly in cloves as they had in nutmeg. However, "unlike nutmeg and mace, which were limited to the minute Bandas, clove trees grew all over the Moluccas, and the trade in cloves was way beyond the limited policing powers of the corporation."
In the 3rd century BC, a Chinese leader in the Han Dynasty required those who addressed him to chew cloves so as to freshen their breath. Cloves were traded by Muslim sailors and merchants during the Middle Ages in the profitable Indian Ocean trade, the clove trade is also mentioned by Ibn Battuta and even famous One Thousand and One Nights characters such Sinbad the Sailor is known to have bought and sold cloves. Archeologists have also found cloves within a ceramic vessel in Syria along with evidence dating the find to within a few years of 1721 BC.
Eugenol comprises 72-90% of the essential oil extracted from cloves, and is the compound most responsible for the cloves' aroma. Other important essential oil constituents of clove oil include acetyl eugenol, beta-caryophyllene and vanillin, crategolic acid, tannins such as bicornin, gallotannic acid, methyl salicylate (painkiller), the flavonoids eugenin, kaempferol, rhamnetin, and eugenitin, triterpenoids like oleanolic acid, stigmasterol and campesterol and several sesquiterpenes.
Eugenol can be toxic in relatively small quantities—as low as 5 ml.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Clove.|
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