Cloves: A Bit of Botany
a little botanical information on cloves

The clove tree is an evergreen tree of the Myrtaceae family. It is a triangular shaped evergreen tree growing about 40 feet tall with smooth gray bark and 5-inch-long, glossy opposite leaves that resemble bay leaves.

The attractive red and white bell shaped flowers bloom year round in ¼ inch clusters at the ends of the branches and have four tiny petals surrounded by a long, four-parted calyx (the “stem” of the clove) and numerous stamens. The buds are pink, but the calyx changes from yellow to deep red-pink after the stamens fall. The fruit, called mother-of-cloves, is an edible purple berry about 1 inch long and ½ inch across.

The entire plant is extremely aromatic.

common names & nomenclature
The generic name, Syzygium, comes from a Greek word meaning “yoked together” and refers to the union, in some species, of the petal tips into a cap that covers the stamens. The word clove is believed to come from either the French clou or the Latin clavus both meaning "nail" in reference to the shape of the clove bud. The genus name, Eugenia, is named after Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736).

Also known as:
eugenia caryophyllata, eugenia aromatica, caryophyllus aromaticus, oleum caryophylli

Cloves, the cooking, crafts, and tinctures spice
Cloves: Where in the World
habitat and range for cloves

Cloves are native to the Maluku islands in Indonesia. Cloves are harvested primarily in Indonesia, India, Madagascar, Zanzibar, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

Cloves: Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for growing and harvesting cloves

Clove trees require a warm, humid climate with 50 to 70 inches of rainfall annually and a minimum temperature of 59°F and a position in full sun or part shade. Most clove plantations are located within 10° of the equator and close to the ocean.

Clove trees grow best in a well-drained, fertile loam soil.

Trees may be propagated by sowing seeds in spring or rooting cuttings in summer. The trees flower for the first time when eight or nine years old. Under favorable conditions, trees may live 100 years or longer.

The unopened flower buds are harvested by hand when they reach full size and are just turning pink. Later, the buds are snapped off the flower stalks and placed on leaf mats to dry in the sun. After three days, they will have turned dark brown and weigh only one-third of their weight when first picked.

Store dried cloves (whole or powdered) in an airtight container in a cool, dry place

Cloves: The Rest of the Story
cloves in history, folklore, literature & more

using clove oil around your home
Essential oils have been a long-time favorite of herb enthusiasts for years. However, you may not know about all the uses for some of them, particularly clove oil. But clove oil is one of the most useful herbs you can find. Once you know all you can do with it, you won’t hesitate to keep it in your pantry.

Putting clove oil on your skin can also keep the bugs away. It works as an insect repellent. And if you want to keep your yard free from pests, try planting clove plants around the perimeter—especially of areas where you spend time. This will help to drive insects out of the area.

If you have metal surfaces that need to be cleaned, clove oil can be the perfect solution. It works wonders at cleaning grime off of metals and leaving behind a brilliant shine. It has many household applications that can help you to keep things clean without using harsh, unnatural chemicals.

Finally, if you’re looking to spice up your sex life, clove oil could be the answer. By just adding a drop or two of clove oil to your morning cup of tea, you can actually put some zing back into the bedroom. Clove is known as an aphrodisiac that’s natural and very effective.

You never know when you’ll need to have some clove oil in your arsenal of natural products. Make sure to keep some in your cabinet at all times.