Cloves are the rich, brown, dried, unopened flower buds of Syzygium aromaticum, an evergreen tree. Cloves are native to the Maluku Islands in Indonesia, and are commonly used as a spice. Cloves are available throughout the year due to different harvest seasons in different countries. Nearly 80% of the clove of the world is produced by Indonesia followed by Madagascar, Tanzania, Zanzibar, India and Sri Lanka. Tamil Nadu produces the largest volume of cloves in India, followed by Karnataka and Kerala. Cloves are a popular flavoring agent used in a variety of ways across the world, in used in spice cookies, cakes and used to flavor sauces, soups and rice dishes, notably a number of traditional Indian dishes; it is one of the components of garam masala.
Various parts of the plant, including the dried buds, stems, and leaves are used to make medicine. Clove oil is famous for its ancient medicinal properties. Today, clove is a very important commercial crop all around the world. Clove has been used for thousands of years in India and China as a medicine as well. Ayurvedic medicine uses cloves for tooth decay and bad breath. In Chinese medicine, clove is considered to possess aphrodisiac properties. Ground cloves are traditionally applied to minor cuts for healing purposes. Clove tea relieves congestion. Clove oil helps relieve headaches, flatulence, as well as reduce stretch marks. It is also popularly used as a bug and insect repellant.