The clove tree was once confined to the Molucca Islands. Now the U.S. derives its chief supplies from Zanzibar. The UNEXPANDED FLOWER BUDS are the part of the plant used, and are first gathered when the tree is 6 to 7 years old. It continues to bloom for almost 100 years. It is thought the full-blown flower and the fruit are destitute of aromatic properties.
The odor of cloves is strong and fragrant; their taste hot and pungent. The best cloves are large, heavy, brittle, and exude a small quantity of oil on being pressed or when scraped. Water extracts the odor of cloves with comparatively little of their taste. All their sensible properties are imparted to alcohol, and the tincture, when evaporated, leaves an excessively fiery extract.
Cloves are among the most stimulant of the aromatics. They are sometimes administered in substance or infusion to relieve nausea and vomiting, correct flatulence, and excite languid digestion; but their chief use is to modify the griping action and the unpleasant taste of other medicines. They enter as ingredients into several official preparations. Their dose in substance is from 5 to 10 grains.
In the vomiting of pregnancy, it is both safe and effectual. Combine powdered cloves and powdered white poplar bark in equal parts. Take about 20 grains, either as a powder or filled in capsules, upon the first appearance of vomiting.
The oil of cloves is a diffusive stimulant and is often rubbed on the gum to relieve toothache and frequently is used as a specific for offensive breath.
Domestically cloves are used as a spice and flavoring. Its fragrance makes it one of the principal ingredients in sachets, pomanders, pot pourris, cosmetics, and soaps.
Clove pomanders were once very popular. They were used to perfume and to protect clothing and linens from moths.