|Where do those little dry, hard, brown sticks we poke into hams come from? Seed pods? Vines? Trees?|
These are probably NOT questions keeping you awake at night. After all, they come from a box or a jar, right?
But, before that?
The clove tree: Syzygium aromaticum
Clove, along with cousins nutmeg, cinnamon, and pepper, were the subject of the Spice Wars when European powers fought for the control of routes to the lucrative Spice Islands. Cloves have been used for their medicinal properties in China since 600AD and clove oil is still used, by some, to relieve tooth pain. It works!
The name "clove" comes from clou, the French word for "nail," which it resembles closely.
We planted a clove tree about 7 years ago in an area we don't often visit, so when we found it blooming, we were quite amazed. The flowers are fragrant and the leaves, when crushed, give off a lovely clove scent.
Again -- where does the clove come from?
Easy. A clove is a flower, picked just before opening and dried. When the bud turns deep pink and that color is almost up to the rounded part of the bud, it is picked and set out to dry. Very labor intensive!
In this picture you can see very immature buds, ripening buds, buds ready to pick, and a bloom!
Now that I have my very own tree, I am looking for ways to use cloves. Any suggestions?
I did a bit of research trying to find the correct botanical name for clove and found quite a bit of conflicting information. There are many synonyms for this correct name, which I got from a taxonomist friend of mine who did further research for me.