The clove tree is an evergreen which grows to a height ranging from 10-20 m, having large oval leaves and crimson flowers in numerous groups of terminal clusters. The flower buds are at first of a pale color and gradually become green, after which they develop into a bright red, when they are ready for collecting. Cloves are harvested when 1.5-2 cm long, and consist of a long calyx, terminating in four spreading sepals, and four unopened petals which form a small ball in the centre.
Cloves can be used in cooking either whole or in a ground form, but as they are extremely strong they are used sparingly. The spice is used throughout Europe and Asia and is smoked in cigarettes (also known as kreteks) in Indonesia and in occasional coffee bars in the West, mixed
The essential oil of cloves has anesthetic and antimicrobial qualities, and is sometimes used to eliminate bad breath or to ameliorate the pain of a bad tooth. It, or its main component eugenol, is used by dentists to calm the nerve inside a tooth after the removal of deep decay, and is the characteristic odour of a dentist's office. Clove oil is used in the traditional blend of choji (1% clove oil in mineral oil) and is applied to Japanese sword blades to prevent tarnishing of the polished surface.
Other useful herb information: Red Yeast Rice | Butterbur | Lobelia | Chicory | Damiana | Bentonite Clay | Reishi Mushroom
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