Origin, Distribution and Composition
Clove is the dried unopened flower bud obtained from a handsome,
middle-sized, evergreen tree. The tree has a straight trunk and grows up
to a height of 10 to 12 meters.
The clove has been used in India and China, for over 2,000 years, as a
spice to check both tooth decay and counter halitosis, that is bad breath.
In Persia and China, it was considered to have aphrodisiac properties.
The clove tree is a native of the Molucca islands. The Chinese obtained
this spice by the 3rd century BC. Cloves were imported into Alexandria as
early as 176 AD. By the fourth century AD it was well known in the
Mediterranean and by the 8th century, throughout Europe. Today Zanzibar is
the leading producer of cloves.
An analysis of clove shows it to consist of carbohydrates moisture,
protein, volatile oil, non-volatile ether extract (fat), and crude fiber
besides mineral matter, ash insoluble in hydrochloric acid, calcium,
phosphorus, iron, sodium, potassium, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin,
vitamins C and A. Its calorific value is 430.
The clove buds, stem and leaves, on steam distillation, yield a
substantial amount of essential oil. The clove bud oil, derived from the
dried buds by steam distillation, contains free eugenol, eugenol acetate
and caryophyllene. The stem oil contains more free eugenal than the bud
oil, besides eugenol acetate, in small quantity. The leaf oil contains
much less of total eugenol than the bud oil and a very small quantity of