Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum, syn. Eugenia aromaticum or Eugenia caryophyllata) are the aromatic dried flower buds of a tree in the family Myrtaceae. It is native to Indonesia and used as a spice in cuisine all over the world. The name derives from French clou, a nail, as the buds vaguely resemble small irregular nails in shape. Cloves are harvested primarily in Zanzibar, Indonesia and Madagascar; it is also grown in India, and Sri Lanka. 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.
Clove, small, reddish-brown flower bud of the tropical evergreen tree Syzygium aromaticum of the family Myrtaceae, was important in the earliest spice trade and believed in indigenous to the Moluccas or Spice Islands (now Maluka), of Indonesia. The people of the Moluccas used to plant a clove tree to celebrate the birth of a child and would wear a necklace of cloves as a protection from evil spirit and illness. Strong in aroma and hot and pungent in taste, cloves are used to flavour many foods, particularly meats and bakery products; in Europe and the USA the spice is a characteristic flavouring in Christmas holiday fare, such as wassail and mincemeat. The name clove is believed to be derived from the French word clou meaning nail due to the appearance of this spice. As early as 200 BC, envoys from Java to the Han-dynasty court of China brought cloves that were customarily held in the mouth to perfume the breath during audiences with the emperor. During the late Middle ages, cloves were used in Europe to preserve, flavour, and garnish food. Clove cultivation was almost entirely confined to Indonesia, and in the early 17th century the Dutch eradicated cloves on all islands except Amboina and Ternate in order to create scarcity and sustain high prices. In the latter half of the 18th century the French smuggled cloves from the East Indies to Indian Ocean islands and the New World, breaking the Dutch monopoly.