Botanical Name : Eugenia caryophyllata, Syzyium aromaticum, Caryophyllus aromaticus
Europa : English : clove, German : Nelke, Gewürznelke, Spanish: clavo de especia, Clavo, Portuguese : Cravo, Italian : Chiodo di garofano, Greek : Garífalo, Dutch : Kruidnagel, Russian : Gvozdika,
Africa : Hebrew : Tziporen, Arabic : Qaranful, Habahan,
Asia : Sanskrit : Shriisanjnan, Hindi : Laung, Sinhala : Karabu nati, Malay : bunga cebgkeh, Bunga cingkeh, Indonesian : cingkeh, Céngké, Thai : Gram goo, Khan plu, Chinese : Ting hsiang, Ding heung, Vietnamese : Hanh con, Japanese : Choji
Cloves are the floral buttons of a tropical tree, a clove tree, which belongs to the family of Myrtacées, and reaches 12 to 15 meters high.

The shape of these buttons is at the origin of the Latin name Clavus, nail. The term clove appeared in France by 1225.

It is universally used in the Asian and European cooking. In Indonesia and in Asia of the southeast, it enters in the composition of cigarettes kretek.

Historic :

Native of Moluccas, the clove is used since an age-old time by Chinese for its medicinal properties. We tell that the courtiers chewed a clove before speaking to the emperor to perfume their breath. Necklaces of cloves surround the neck of certain Egyptian mummies. In 65, Pedanios Dioscoride praises its virtues in the treaty "Sur la matière médicale".
It seems whether they are the Phoenician which forwarded him in Rome. The first quotation of this spice in Western Europe seems to be a text which lists, in 334, a present of the Roman emperor Constantin le Grand to saint Sylvestre, bishop of Rome, containing, among other things, 150 pounds of cloves. We found, in a Merovingian grave dating the year 600, a golden box containing 2 cloves.
At the end of the Middle Ages, it is used in Europe to preserve food.
The origin of the clove is determined to the XVth century by Nicolo de Conti, Venetian traveler. He hears during his big trip in Asia ( 1444 ), that the clove is produced in islands Banda, in the center of the Moluccas, and passes in transit by Java.

In 1511, Portuguese discovers the Moluccas, the islands with clove and nutmeg. They seize the production and limit it from 1512, during the establishment of their first counter.
Antonio Pigafetta, who participated in the expedition of Magellan (on 1520 - 1522) and establishes the daily report, described the first one the clove tree exactly.
In 1605 Dutch seizes Moluccas and apply the same olicy as the Portuguese: Limitation of the culture only on the Moluccas and strict control of the production to maintain artificially high prices.

Pierre Poivre (on 1719 - 1786), adventurer and French botanist, revolutionizes this commercial policy by seizing and by acclimatizing in 1773 some clove trees. The Dutch monopoly was ended.

Historic bibliography :

Report of the trip of Magellan, Antonio Pigafetta
The book of world wonders, Marco Polo
Journeys of mister de Thévenot containing the relation of Indostan, new Mogols and other peoples and country of India, Jean de Thévenot (1633-1667)

They're saying…

In the Moluccas, we plant a clove tree in every birth, the good growth of the tree is sign of good omen for the child. We carry also a necklace of its pins there to take away the evil spell.
In the Middle Ages, it was considered as an antidote in the plague.
In 1642, Anders Rydaholm, Swedish chemist, specifies that "If a man loses his virile power, he has to stop drinking some alcohol to replace it by some milk spiced by means of 5g of cloves : It will strengthen him and will make him desire again his wife".

Properties :

Antiseptic, analgesic, anesthetic
Very used in dentistry, against the raging toothache
Used against the intestinal disorders, the urinary infections and gynecologicals
Antibacterial, antifungal, (against colibacilli, streptococci, staphylococci, pneumococci) and antimyeoctique

The eugénol extracts nails serves to make some vanilla of synthesis...

Composition :

More than 15 % of essential oil
70 in 90 % of eugénol
10 in 15 % of acetate of eugénol
3 to 12 % of beta-caryophyllène
2 % of acid oléanique
Tracks of: vanillin, furfural, amyl ketone methyl

The clove tree :

Eugenia Caryophyllata or Syzygium aromaticum
Family of Myrtacées.

Etymology :

Eugenia : In homage to Eugène de Savoie-Carignan(1663-1736) Humanist and botanist
Caryophyllata: of the Greek, the karuo (walnut) and phyllon eaf: in leaf of walnut

Tree of 8 - 15 meters, marine tropical climate, in the light gray smooth trunk.
Small flower, compound of 4 white petals and 4 red sepals.
Its fruit is a purple elliptic bay, then purplish, aromatic brown.
Gleaming green tough persistent foliage, which releases a sweet steam.
Harvest 6-8 years after the plantation, the full yield from 20 years and for more than 20 years.
The picking is realized in the hand not to damage branches. Buttons are collected at the precise moment of the rosissement of sepals. Every tree produces approximately 10 kg of nails a year.
Buttons are eradicated (separation of the button of the peduncle which is kept to extract the essential oil). Then they are dried in the sun which gives them their brown color.