Tips for Growing Clove
Commonly known as clove. It is the aromatic dried flower buds of a tree. Cloves come from the Myrtaceae family, and are native to India and Indonesia.
Eugenia aromaticum or Eugenia caryophyllata
This plant has been used globally as a common spice for food. The name is derived from the Latin, clavus, meaning nail, due to the possible nail-shape of the dried bud. The ancient Chinese first documented use of the fragrant clove in 207 B.C. It has been used medicinally, in ancient times, for bad breath, insect-repelling, as well as a wide breadth of other applications.
HERBAL PROPERTIES AND USES:
Clove has a wide base of medicinal uses, and many cultures revered this herb as a panacea for many diseases and ailments. The most common uses of this herb are related to its antiseptic and analgesic properties. Clove oil has been widely used as a method for preventing tooth decay and toothaches, as well as a cure for nausea, hernia, intestinal gas, diarrhea and fungal infections such as Athlete's foot. Some viral infections respond well to clove oil's antiseptic and bactericidal properties. In tropical Asia, clove is used to combat malaria, cholera, tuberculosis and parasitic illnesses. As a topical ointment, cloves can also be used to alleviate muscle spasms, acne, skin ulcers and styes in the eyes. Cloves are also a potent insecticide, repelling disease-causing mosquitoes and other insects.
Clove Cultivation and Growing Methods
The tree is a perennial.
The flowering buds are dried. The dried stems are also used for making essential oils.
Clove grows best in rich loamy soils in the wet tropics. Can also grow in heavier red soils, but in either case, needs good drainage.
Prefers partial shade and even rainfall.
This plant does best in tropical conditions, such as in those regions surrounding the Indian Ocean. The clove tree is native to the Molucca Islands of Indonesia, but can be found in many tropical parts of Asia. USDA zones 10-11
Clove trees have an extremely long growing period, as the plant only produces clove buds after 20 years of growth.
Pollinated by the fruits that naturally fall to the ground.
After twenty years of growth, the clove tree begins to produce flowering buds. Once flowering begins, cloves can be collected during both the spring and winter of tropical regions for at least several decades. Cloves are propagated by seeds or by cuttings. The seeds can be directly planted, or soaked in water overnight to remove the outer lining.
Cloves are harvested when the flowers turn from green to purple. The ripened flower buds are collected and sun dried in tropical regions.
DRYING METHODS / YIELD:
After flowering, remove the buds from the stalks and allow to dry in the warm sun for 4-6 days. The stems and buds of the cloves are dried separately, and the stems may be used for oil distillation. Spread on dry clean mats, and dry immediately, as the buds will quickly ferment. Rake the buds periodically to ensure an even deep reddish-brown color.
Entire dried bud can be used.
PRESERVATION / PACKAGING METHODS:
Store immediately, once dried, in an air-tight container. Make sure that the cloves are fully dry before they are stored as any wetness will cause the cloves to rot.
ESSENTIAL OIL USE:
The main medicinal component of cloves is related to the compound phenol, eugenol. Eugenol is a strong antiseptic and anesthetic. For this reason, clove oil is an excellent general antiseptic and analgesic oil for relieving tooth pain.
Clove contains a powerful oil composed of two main organic chemicals called eugenol and eugenyl acetate. Clove also contains lower amounts f methyl salicylate, pinene, vanillin and tannins.
IS THIS AN EDIBLE PLANT:
Yes. Dosages are normally one single clove for a toothache, or one several drops mixed in water or soaked in a cotton ball and applied directly to the effected area. The tea of several cloves can be strained and drunk.
CAUTIONS / CONTRAINDICATIONS:
Clove oil is very concentrated and may cause adverse reaction on sensitive skin, so use in dilution. Avoid the use of clove oil during pregnancy.
Consult your doctor before taking supplemental cloves, as there are 64 drugs known to interact with clove.
Clinical Research About Clove
- Effect of commercially available plant-derived essential oil products on arthropod pests. Cloyd RA, Galle CL, Keith SR, Kalscheur NA, Kemp KE. J Econ Entomol. 2009 Aug;102(4):1567-79. [PMID: 19736770]
- Protective effect of clove oil-supplemented fish diets on experimental Lactococcus garvieae infection in tilapia. Rattanachaikunsopon P, Phumkhachorn P. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2009 Sep;73(9):2085-9. Epub 2009 Sep 7. [PMID: 19734665]
- Phytochemical analyses and gastroprotective effects of Eugenia umbelliflora (Myrtaceae) on experimental gastric ulcers. Meyre-Silva C, Petry CM, Berté TE, Becker RG, Zanatta F, Delle-Monache F, Cechinel-Filho V, Andrade SF. Nat Prod Commun. 2009 Jul;4(7):911-6. [PMID: 19731591]
- Antifungal activity of the clove essential oil from Syzygium aromaticum on Candida, Aspergillus and dermatophyte species. Pinto E, Vale-Silva L, Cavaleiro C, Salgueiro L. J Med Microbiol. 2009 Nov;58(Pt 11):1454-1462. Epub 2009 Jul 9. [PMID: 19589904]
- Possibility of fighting food borne bacteria by egyptian folk medicinal herbs and spices extracts. Tayel AA, El-Tras WF. J Egypt Public Health Assoc. 2009;84(1-2):21-32. [PMID: 19712651]
- Lust, John, N.D. "The Herb Book", Bantam Books. 1979.
- Common Clove. http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/cloves76.html
- Balch, Phyllis and Balch, James. Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 3rd ed., Avery Publishing, ©2000, pg. 94.
- Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica, Third Edition by Dan Bensky, Steven Clavey, Erich Stoger, and Andrew Gamble 2004.
- National Institutes of Health, Medicine Plus. Clove (Eugenia aromatica) and Clove oil (Eugenol). http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural patient-clove.html