The clove is the dried flower bud of a very small tree called an evergreen clove tree. The Clove evergreen does not flower until it is about ten years old. Oil distilled from the flower bud has a warm, spicy, and woody odor. Evidence of cloves had been found in containers dating back to 1721 BC. One of the more interesting facts is that clove has a local anesthetic property, and was used as an aid in dentistry in China as far back as 80 BC.
Originally native to the Maluku Islands of Indonesia only, where many spices originated from, it was tradition to plant a clove tree upon the birth of a child and the life of the tree was tied directly to the life of the child. The trees were highly revered, and they were protected accordingly by the Natives. In the 16th and 17th Centuries, the Dutch wanted a monopoly on cloves, as there were very limited amounts, and only used by the very elite of the world; therefore, much money was made on the transport of this spice. The Dutch took over the islands and began destroying clove trees that sprouted up anywhere outside of their own controlled growing areas. The Natives became very angry but as the Dutch were stronger with weaponry there was little they could do but watch their beloved trees be burned.
Clove oil has historically been know to help with many ailments and has the following properties: analgesic, antiseptic, antibacterial, antiviral, antiparasitic, antifungal, stimulant and spasmolytic. It has been known to stimulate the mind, help reduce acne, curtail athlete’s foot, ease bronchitis, aid healing of cuts, ease toothaches, help to lessen stress, and help prevent colds and flu. The spice trade had a violent past as with anything that greed has attempted to control. But when the inevitable shift happened in the 18th Century when cloves started being grown in many other places, it became affordable. Clove finally became what it should have always been, a favorite spice in cooking and medicine for all people, regardless of class, the world over.