The clove of commerce is the air-dried unopened flower bud obtained from evergreen medium sized tree.
The tree grows to a height of 10-12 mtrs and start flowering in about 7 years. It continues to produce flower buds for 80 or more years. It is a valuable spice of the orient.
Clove clusters are plucked by hand when the buds are fully developed with a pronounced pink flush and then dried over several days in the sun. Unopened flower buds, leaves and stalks yield essential oil.
The Clove main consists of 90-95% eugenol, and some other minor constituents. A major component of clove taste is imparted by the chemical eugenol.
Eugenol is the component which is most responsible for clove aroma and comprises 72-90% of the essential oil extracted from cloves.
The use of clove in whole or ground form is mainly for culinary purposes and as a flavouring agent in food industry.
Its flavour blends well with both sweet and savory dishes. It is highly valued in medicine as carminative, aromatic and stimulant.
The antiseptic and antibiotic properties of clove oil are used in medicine especially in dentistry, oral and pharyngeal treatments.
It has wider applications in preparations of toothpaste and mouthwashes, soaps and perfumes. It is also reported to help diabetics in sugar assimilations.