Clove, (Eugenia aromaticum or Eugenia caryophyllata), are the aromatic dried flower buds of a tree of the Myrtaceae family and are native to India and Indonesia. The name is derived from the Latin, clavus, meaning nail, probably due to nail-shape of the dried bud.
The ancient Chinese first documented use of the fragrant clove in 207 B.C. It has been used medicinally, in ancient times, for bad breath, insect-repelling, as well as a wide breadth of other applications.
Cloves are a highly prized medicinal spice that have been used for centuries in treating digestive and respiratory ailments.
Cloves contain good amounts of vitamins A, C, K, and B-complex as well as minerals such as manganese, iron, selenium, potassium, and magnesium.
They also contain powerful antiseptic, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and anesthetic properties making them tremendously useful in helping to heal a wide variety of illnesses and health conditions.
Cloves are particularly beneficial for the digestive tract and are great for indigestion, gas, constipation, bloating, nausea, and countering the effects of heavy, rich food.
They are excellent for relieving muscle spasms, headaches, and nerve pain. They are also often used to disinfect gums, teeth, kidneys, liver, skin, and bronchi. A drop of cloves oil on an infected tooth will give it pain relief.
Clove oil contains eugenol which is a powerful anesthetic and natural pain reliever and is commonly used to help relieve toothaches and to numb gums in dentistry.
Clove oil is beneficial for the circulatory system and is a potent platelet inhibitor which prevents blood clots. Clove oil is also excellent for athlete’s foot and for healing cuts, bruises, burns, rashes, and psoriasis.
Essential oil of Clove is an effective decongestant and should be used in a vaporizer, humidifier, or aromatherapy machine to help disinfect the air and to help benefit respiratory conditions such as sinusitis, tuberculosis, bronchitis, asthma, colds & coughs. Cloves are also an important ingredient in the Young Living Essential Oil blend called ‘Thieves”.
Clove oil is very concentrated and may cause adverse reaction on sensitive skin, so use in dilution. Avoid the use of clove oil during pregnancy.
Clove tea is helpful for strengthening the immune system and detoxifying the body.
Steep 2 tsp of whole cloves in two cups of hot water for at least 10 minutes, sweeten with honey if desired.
Cloves capsules, extract, tincture, tea, and topical oils & creams can be found whole or powdered in your local supermarket or health food store or online.
IMPORTANT: Consult your doctor before taking supplemental cloves, as there are around 64 drugs known to interact with clove.
Spice in Food
Cloves are often combined with other herbs to create seasonings such as Curry Powder and Garam Masala in India, Chinese Five Spice in China, and Worcester Sauce in Great Britain. They are also the ideal addition to deserts, fruit salads, smoothies, and savory dishes alike.
They are renowned for providing their uniquely warm, sweet and aromatic taste to ginger bread and pumpkin pie, but they can also make a wonderful addition to split pea and bean soups, baked beans and chili.
Cloves are often used in dishes that include cinnamon or nutmeg, but as a general rule, it’s a good idea to use cloves sparingly.
Whole or ground cloves have a very long shelf life. Cloves are also used for decorations that add aroma to the atmosphere of any room.
Grow a Clove Tree
This plant does best in tropical conditions, such as in those regions surrounding the Indian Ocean. The clove tree is native to the Molucca Islands of Indonesia, but can be found in many tropical parts of Asia. USDA zones 10-11. Although you can grow a clove tree in subtropical zones, it may not flower in cooler temperatures as it needs temperatures above 10 degrees C (50F) and consistently high humidity.
The clove tree is a 8-10m (25-33ft), tropical evergreen tree. Clove flower buds change over 5-6 months from green to pinkish-red, then are picked and sun dried for 4-5 days. The buds are quite waxy and both the flowers and leaves are very similar to an Australian gum tree, showing their Myrtaceae connection.
You can grow it as an indoor plant or in a greenhouse if you can keep the humidity high enough – indoors you could try a terrarium-style growing environment as long as the potting mix can drain well.
Clove grows best in rich loamy soils in the wet tropics and needs good drainage. Clove trees have an extremely long growing period, as the plant only produces clove buds after 20 years of growth. After twenty years of growth, the clove tree begins to produce flowering buds.
Once flowering begins, cloves can be collected during both the spring and winter of tropical regions for at least several decades.
Cloves are propagated by seeds or by cuttings. The seeds can be directly planted, or soaked in water overnight to remove the outer lining.
Germination takes about 6 weeks and the seedlings are very delicate and slow growing.
Pot them only after they are about 25cm (9 in) high, which may take up to 6 months.
Some growers recommend letting the growing medium dry out the day before transplanting to try to keep the small, fragile root ball intact. Grow them on in the shade for another 18 months before planting in the garden.