|Latin Name : Syzygium Aromaticum|
|Family : Myrtaceae|
|Genus : Eugenia|
|Common names : Clove, Clovos, Caryophyllus|
Cloves are the dried, unopened flower buds of the evergreen clove tree. This small reddish-brown flower bud resemble a tiny nail head. The name clove is believed to be derived either from the Latin word 'clavus' or the French word 'clou' which means nail. It is native to Moluccas or Spice Islands (Indonesia) but is also grown in India, Sumatra, Jamaica, the West Indies, Brazil and other tropical areas. This pyramidal evergreen clove tree, grows up to 15 to 30 feet tall, has smooth grey bark and ovate 5 inches long leaves with small bell-shaped white flowers which grow in terminal clusters. The flower buds are greenish and turns pink at maturity. The seeds are oblong, soft, grooved on one side.
All parts of the clove tree are highly aromatic. Dried flower buds, which gives a sharp and spicy flavor, either whole or ground are used for culinary purposes. Clove oil, obtained by distillation, is widely used in synthetic vanilla and other flavorings as well as in perfumes. It has medicinal properties for digestive complaints, indigestion, flatulence, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and used to treat cough, infertility, warts, worms, wounds and toothache etc.Propagation, Planting and Harvesting
Cloves require a humid, warm tropical climate. It grows well in rich loamy soils of the humid tropics and can be grown successfully in the red soils as well as in the hilly terrain of the Western Ghats. Since the crop cannot withstand water logged conditions, clove needs good drainage. Clove prefers partial shade and a cooler climate with well distributed rainfall which is ideal for flowering.
Cloves are usually propagated by seeds or by cuttings. Fruits for seed collection are allowed to ripe on the tree itself and drop down naturally. These fruits can be sown directly or soaked in water overnight and the pericarp removed before sowing.
The seeds of the clove can be sown in a loose soil-sand mixture prepared with well rotted organic matter, on raised beds. Seeds are sown at 2-3 cm spacing at a depth of about 2 cm. The seed beds have to be protected from direct sunlight. The seeds will germinate about 10 to 15 days and can be transplanted in polythene bags containing a mixture of soil, sand and well decomposed cow dung. The seeds can also be sown directly in polythene bags filled with soil-sand-cow dung mixture and kept in a shady cool place. The seedlings are ready for transplanting in the field when they are 18-24 months old. The pits for planting the seedlings are partially filled with compost, green leaf or cattle manure and covered with top soil. Clove trees are planted in garden lands together with various other crop plants such as coconut, banana, jack, mango etc.
Under good soil and management condition, flowering begins in about five to seven years. The buds are hand-picked when the heads develop a pink caste or just before they open. At this stage, they are less than 2 cm long. The harvested flower buds are separated from the clusters and are then sun-dried. As they dry, the stems turn very dark brown and the heads become light tan in colour. Well dried cloves will be only about one-third the weight of fresh cloves. A mature tree may yield seven to 40 pounds in one harvest.
Cloves have a very warm, pungent, sweet aroma, with a slightly astringent quality. Oil of clove is prized for its antiseptic qualities, and is often used in toothpaste and mouth washes. Both whole and ground forms keep well for years. Cloves are used widely in both sweet and savory dishes. Three essential oils are available from this spice: clove bud oil, clove stem oil and clove leaf oil. Each has different chemical composition and flavour. Clove bud oil, is the most expensive and the best quality product among the oils.Problems and Care
Seedling wilt is a serious problem and the leaves of affected seedlings loose natural luster, tend to droop and ultimately die. Since the infected plants promote further spread of the disease, they have to be removed. Leaf rot, leaf spots and bud shedding are other problems noticed in mature trees and seedlings. The foliage of affected trees should be sprayed with carbendazim and prophylatic. The scale insects feed on plant sap and cause yellow spots on leaves and wilting of shoots and the plants present a sickly appearance. They can be controlled by spraying monocrotophos.
Organic manures can be applied as a single dose at the beginning of the rainy season in trenches dug around the trees. The fertilizers must be applied in two equal split doses in May-June and in September-October in shallow trenches dug around the plant normally about 1-1½ m away from the base.
Questions & Answers