Cloves are the aromatic flower buds of a tree in the family Myrtaceae, Syzygium aromaticum
. They are native to the Maluku Islands (or Moluccas) in Indonesia, and are commonly used as a spice. Cloves are available throughout the year owing to different harvest seasons in different countries.
The clove tree is an evergreen that grows up to 8–12 metres (26–39 ft) tall, with large leaves and crimson flowers grouped in terminal clusters. The flower buds initially have a pale hue, gradually turn green, then transition to a bright red when ready for harvest. Cloves are harvested at 1.5–2 centimetres (0.59–0.79 in) long, and consist of a long calyx that terminates in four spreading sepals, and four unopened petals that form a small central ball.
Traditionally, cloves have been used for centuries in the treatment of vomiting; flatulence; nausea; liver, bowel and stomach disorders; and as a stimulant for the nerves. In tropical Asia, cloves have been documented to relieve different microorganisms as scabies, cholera, malaria, and tuberculosis.
Cloves are used in the cuisine of Asian, African, Mediterranean, and the Near and Middle East countries, lending flavor to meats, curries, and marinades, as well as fruit (such as apples, pears, and rhubarb). Cloves may be used to give aromatic and flavor qualities to hot beverages, often combined with other ingredients such as lemon and sugar.