Home >> Chamber's Encyclopedia, Volume 4 >> Abraham Cowley to Cobra Da Capello >> Cloves


oil, clove-tree, odor, tree and hot

CLOVES (Fr. elou, a nail) are the flower-buds of the clove-tree (caryophyllus aromaticus). The genus to which this tree belongs is of the natural order myrtacecn; the calyx has a cylindrical tube and 4-cleft border; the corolla consists of four petals united by their tips; the stamens are in four clusters; and the fruit is an oblong dry berry with one or two cells and as many seeds. The clove-tree is from 15 to 40 It high, with a beautiful pyramidal head. The leaves are large, ovate-oblong, acuminated at each end, ever green: the flowers are small, but produced in great profusion in cymes. Leaves, flowers, and bark have an aromatic odor. The ripe fruit in shape resembles an olive, but is not quite so large; it is of a dark-red color; it sometimes appeals in commerce in a dried state, under the curious name of mother cloves; it has an odor and flavor similar to C., but much weaker: the broken fruit-stalks are sometimes also used for the same purposes as C.; but the flower-buds themselves are the principal product of the tree. They are gathered, and are dried by exposure to the smoke of wood fires, and afterwards to the rays of the sun, or by the latter alone. When first gathered, they are reddish, but become of a deep-brown color. The nnexpanded corolla forms a little round head at the end of the calyx tube, which is about half an inch long, and thus the appearance is not unlike that of a little nail, whence the name. The clove-tree is a native of the Moluccas, and the Amboyna C. are still esteemed the best; but the tree is now culti vated in Sumatra, Bourbon, Mauritius, and some parts of the West Indies, and will probably soon be common in many other tropical countries. The Dutch, in order to

secure to their own colonists a monopoly of the trade in this spice, destroyed the trees in the other Molucca islands, and confined the cultivation of them to the isle of Ternate. It is not deemed quite certain that C. are the karyophyllon of the ancient Greeks; but before the discovery of the Spice islands, eastern merchants brought them from Arabia, Persia, and Egypt, to the harbors of the Mediterranean, from which the Venetians and Genoese diffused them over Europe.

The wild clove-tree of the West Indies is myrcia aerie. See MYRCIA.

The properties of C. depend chiefly on an essential oil, oil of C., which forms one fifth or one sixth of the whole weight. They are used for flavoring dessert dishes and articles of confectionery. They have a hot taste and a characteristic odor. The oil of C. is obtained by repeatedly distilling C. with water, when two oils pass over, one of which is lighter and the other is heavier than water. The oil has a hot acrid taste, is of a light yellow when pure, and brown red when not so carefully prepared. It has a well-known odor, and is soluble in ether, alcohol, and the fixed oils. It is useful in medicine to check nausea and griping, caused by the administration of purgatives. It is also employed in the scenting of soap, and by the distiller. Tincture of C. is obtained by treating C. with alcohol for several days, and then straining, or by a solution of the oil of C. in spirits of wine. It is added, in medicine, to stomachic, tonic and purgative mixtures