The clove, belongs to the family Myrtaceae. The spices is indigenous to certain volcanic islands of North Molucca, in the eastern part of Indonesia.
The tree is of medium size, fine, evergreen, reaching up to 20 m in height and varies in its canopy shape from cylindrical to pyramidal, depending on the variety. The tree can live up to 100 years. The trunk diameter can reach 30 cm in mature plants. The leaves are opposite, oblong obovate in shape, bright pinks in newly-formed leaves which turn to dark green when mature. The flower is a hermaphrodite with a fleshy hypanthium that is surmpunted by the sepals. The colour of unopened buds at the young stage is usually green, turning to flushed pink when they reach their full size, at which time they are ready for harvest. At the stage the statemens are still inside and covered by petals which from the head of the dried cloves. Early picking or overripe buds will produce lower quality clove bud. The tree is grown primarily for the unopened buds which are dried to produce the familiar spice of commerce.
The main products of clove are: whole or ground clove buds, essential oils, produced from clove buds, stem and leaf and clove oleoresins.
Whole or ground clove contains 15 to 20% by weight of volatile oil.
The use of clove in whole or ground is mainly for domestic culinary purposes and as a flavouring agent in the food industry. Clove can also be used as food. Whole cloves are seldom used in food processing as they are not a ready source of flavour.
In the foods industry, cloves are often used in the form of ground, extracted essential oils or oleoresin in a small amount because of their intense flavour.