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Small, reddish brown flower bud of the tropical evergreen tree Syzygium aromaticum (sometimes called Eugenia caryophyllata), of the myrtle family. The tree is believed to be native to the Moluccas of Indonesia. Cloves were important in the earliest spice trade. With a strong aroma and hot and pungent taste, they are used to flavour many foods. Clove oil is sometimes used as a local anesthetic for toothaches. Eugenol, its principal ingredient, is used in germicides, perfumes, and mouthwashes, in the synthesis of vanillin, and as a sweetener or flavour intensifier.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on clove, visit Britannica.com.