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Clove tree (Syzygium aromaticum)

Clove tree (Syzygium aromaticum)Clove tree (Syzygium aromaticum)

The evergreen clove tree is a child of the tropics; heat and humidity of up to 100 percent are just right for the tree, which can grow to about 12 meters high and 130 years old. Its dried flower buds are used as a spice and also as a remedy; because they resemble small nails in shape, they used to be called "little nails." The power of the medicinal plant of the year 2010 can be easily tested: if you bite on a clove, you will feel a burning sensation on your tongue and the slight anesthesia.

Origin and cultivation.

The original home of the clove tree is the Moluccas, which lie to the west of New Guinea and were formerly known as the "Spice Islands"; wild specimens can still be found here. As early as late antiquity, the sun-dried, reddish-braun colored flower buds came to Europe as a precious spice via caravan routes. Today, the trees are cultivated on Madagascar, Zanzibar, Sri Lanka and in many other coastal regions. The buds, which are about to blossom, are harvested twice a year: once from July to October, then again in December.


All parts of the clove tree contain clove oil, but the flower buds have the highest content: up to 20 percent; in addition, there is a high proportion of antioxidants. Good quality cloves can be recognized by the fact that they secrete some oil when pressed with a fingernail. Because clove oil is heavier than water, cloves sink to the bottom of a glass of water or stand upright in the water. If they float flat on the surface, they are old and inferior goods whose oil has already evaporated. The main component of clove oil is eugenol, which has a disinfectant, antiseptic and local anesthetic effect.

Use of clove oil.

Clove oilClove oil
  • The disinfecting effect of clove oil is used, for example, in mouthwashes and gargle solutions. An old household remedy is to bite on a clove with the affected tooth in case of acute toothache until it has almost dissolved. This also helps with inflammation in the mouth.
  • Clove oil stimulates digestion, so it also helps against flatulence and bloating.
  • Externally, it is used against acne caused by bacteria.
  • Clove oil is added to perfumes and insect repellents, in the first case to attract bipeds, in the second case to drive away annoying six-legged creatures.

If you have ever wondered why the lullaby "Guten Abend, gute Nacht" ("Good evening, good night") set to music by Johannes Brahms says: "... mit Näglein besteckt, schlupf unter die Deck" ("Cloves covered with little nails, slip under the deck") - what is meant, of course, are the precious cloves.

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