Strausbaugh, Perry D. Department of Botany, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Core, Earl L. Department of Biology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Last reviewed:December 2019
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The unopened flower bud of a small, conical, symmetrical, evergreen tree, Syzygium aromaticum (also Eugenia caryophyllata), of the myrtle family (Myrtaceae). Cloves (see illustration) are picked by hand and dried in the sun or by artificial means. The crop is uncertain and difficult to grow. Cloves are one of the most important and useful spices, being strongly aromatic and possessing a pungent flavor. They are used as a culinary spice for flavoring pickles, ketchup and sauces; in medicine; and as a perfume for soaps, breath fresheners and room-air fresheners. Clove oil, or the oil of cloves, is a thin, colorless to pale-yellow liquid that thickens and darkens over time. This aromatic essential oil is distilled from cloves by water or steam. The chief clove-producing countries are Tanzania (with the majority of the total output), Indonesia, Mauritius and the West Indies. See also: Essential oils; Myrtales; Spice and flavoring
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