AskDefine | Define clove

Dictionary Definition

clove (See cleave)


1 separate or cut with a tool, such as a sharp instrument; "cleave the bone" [syn: split, rive]
2 make by cutting into; "The water is going to cleave a channel into the rock"
3 come or be in close contact with; stick or hold together and resist separation; "The dress clings to her body"; "The label stuck to the box"; "The sushi rice grains cohere" [syn: cling, adhere, stick, cohere] [also: cloven, clove, cleft]clove


1 aromatic flower bud of a clove tree; yields a spice
2 moderate sized very symmetrical red-flowered evergreen widely cultivated in the tropics for its flower buds which are source of cloves [syn: clove tree, Syzygium aromaticum, Eugenia aromaticum, Eugenia caryophyllatum]
3 one of the small bulblets that can be split off of the axis of a larger garlic bulb [syn: garlic clove]
4 spice from dried unopened flower bud of the clove tree; used whole or ground

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. A very pungent aromatic spice, the unexpanded flower bud of the clove tree (Eugenia aromatica syn. Caryophullus aromatica), a native of the Molucca Isles.
  2. Any one of the separate bulbs that make up the larger bulb of garlic
  3. An old English measure of weight, containing 7 pounds (3.2 kg); half a stone.
    • 1866: By a statute of 9 Hen. VI. it was ordained that the wey of cheese should contain 32 cloves of 7 lbs. each, i.e. 224 lbs., or 2 cwts. — James Edwin Thorold Rogers, A History of Agriculture and Prices in England, Volume 1, p. 169.


bulb of garlic


From Old French clou (de girofle), meaning "nail" for its shape; this from Latin clavus (nail).


  1. simple past of cleave

See also

Extensive Definition

This article is about the spice; for other meanings see clove (disambiguation).
Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum, syn. Eugenia aromaticum or Eugenia caryophyllata) are the aromatic dried flower buds of a tree in the family Myrtaceae. Cloves are native to Indonesia and used as a spice in cuisine all over the world. The name derives from French clou, a nail, as the buds vaguely resemble small irregular nails in shape. Cloves are harvested primarily in Zanzibar, Indonesia and Madagascar; it is also grown in Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka.
The clove tree is an evergreen which grows to a height ranging from 10-20 m, having large oval leaves and crimson flowers in numerous groups of terminal clusters. The flower buds are at first of a pale color and gradually become green, after which they develop into a bright red, when they are ready for collecting. Cloves are harvested when 1.5-2 cm long, and consist of a long calyx, terminating in four spreading sepals, and four unopened petals which form a small ball in the centre.


According to FAO, Indonesia produced almost 80% of the world's clove output in 2005 followed at a distance by Madagascar and Tanzania.
Cloves can be used in cooking either whole or in a ground form, but as they are extremely strong, they are used sparingly. The spice is used throughout Europe and Asia and is smoked in a type of cigarettes locally known as kretek in Indonesia. Cloves are also an important incense material in Chinese and Japanese culture.
Cloves have historically been used in Indian cuisine (both North Indian and South Indian) as well as in Mexican cuisine, where it is often paired together with cumin and canela (cinnamon). In the north Indian cuisine, it is used in almost every sauce or side dish made, mostly ground up along with other spices. They are also a key ingredient in tea along with green cardamoms. In the south Indian cuisine, it finds extensive use in the biryani dish (similar to the pilaf, but with the addition of local spice taste), and is normally added whole to enhance the presentation and flavor of the rice.

Medicinal uses

Cloves are used in Ayurveda called Lavang in India, Chinese medicine and western herbalism and dentistry where the essential oil is used as an anodyne (painkiller) for dental emergencies. Cloves are used as a carminative, to increase hydrochloric acid in the stomach and to improve peristalsis. Cloves are also said to be a natural antihelmintic. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy when stimulation and warming is needed, especially for digestive problems. Topical application over the stomach or abdomen will warm the digestive tract.
In Chinese medicine cloves or ding xiang are considered acrid, warm and aromatic, entering the kidney, spleen and stomach meridians, and are notable in their ability to warm the middle, direct stomach qi downward, to treat hiccough and to fortify the kidney yang. Because the herb is so warming it is contraindicated in any persons with fire symptoms and according to classical sources should not be used for anything except cold from yang deficiency. As such it is used in formulas for impotence or clear vaginal discharge from yang deficiency, for morning sickness together with ginseng and patchouli, or for vomiting and diarrhea due to spleen and stomach coldness. This would translate to hypochlorhydria.
Ayurvedic herbalist K.P. Khalsa, RH (AHG), uses cloves internally as a tea and topically as an oil for hypotonic muscles, including for multiple sclerosis. This is also found in Tibetan medicine. Ayurvedic herbalist Alan Tilotson, RH (AHG) suggests avoiding more than occasional use of cloves internally in the presence of pitta inflammation such as is found in acute flares of autoimmune diseases.
In West Africa, the Yorubas use cloves infused in water as a treatment for stomach upsets, vomitting and diarrhoea.The infusion is called Ogun Jedi-jedi.
Western studies have supported the use of cloves and clove oil for dental pain, and to a lesser extent for fever reduction, as a mosquito repellent and to prevent premature ejaculation. Clove may reduce blood sugar levels.


Large amounts should be avoided in pregnancy. Cloves can be irritating to the gastrointestinal tract, and should be avoided by people with gastric ulcers, colitis, or irritable bowel syndrome. In overdoses, cloves can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage. Severe cases can lead to changes in liver function, dyspnea, loss of consciousness, hallucination, and even death. The internal use of the essential oil should be restricted to 3 drops per day for an adult as excessive use can cause severe kidney damage.


Until modern times, cloves grew only on a few islands in the Maluku Islands (historically called the Spice Islands), including Bacan, Makian, Moti, Ternate, and Tidore. Nevertheless, they found their way west to the Middle East and Europe well before the first century CE. Archeologists found cloves within a ceramic vessel in Syria along with evidence dating the find to within a few years of 1721 BC.

Notes and references

clove in Bulgarian: Карамфил (подправка)
clove in Catalan: Clavell d'espècia
clove in Czech: Hřebíček
clove in Corsican: Viulaccia
clove in German: Gewürznelke
clove in Modern Greek (1453-): Γαριφαλόδενδρο
clove in Estonian: Nelk_(vürts)
clove in Spanish: Syzygium aromaticum
clove in Esperanto: Kariofilo
clove in French: Giroflier
clove in Indonesian: Cengkeh
clove in Italian: Eugenia caryophyllata
clove in Hebrew: ציפורן (תבלין)
clove in Haitian: Jiwòf
clove in Latin: Syzygium aromaticum
clove in Luxembourgish: Neelcheskapp
clove in Lithuanian: Kvapnusis gvazdikmedis
clove in Limburgan: Groffelsnagel
clove in Hungarian: Szegfűszeg
clove in Dutch: Kruidnagel
clove in Japanese: クローブ
clove in Norwegian: Kryddernellik
clove in Norwegian Nynorsk: Nelliktre
clove in Polish: Goździki
clove in Portuguese: Cravo-da-índia
clove in Kölsch: Jrovvötsnäähl
clove in Romanian: Cuişoare
clove in Russian: Гвоздика (пряность)
clove in Finnish: Mausteneilikka
clove in Swedish: Kryddnejlika
clove in Tamil: கிராம்பு
clove in Vietnamese: Đinh hương (gia vị)
clove in Turkish: Karanfil (baharat)
clove in Ukrainian: Гвоздика (пряність)
clove in Walloon: Djirofe
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