The baking spice we know as clove starts out as an undeveloped green flower bud on an Indonesian evergreen tree in the myrtle family. When the bud turns red, the spice is harvested by shaking the tree. The dried flower bud, which is actually a long calyx consisting of four unopened petals, looks a lot like a nail with a head at one end. In fact, the common name for the spice is taken from the French word clov, which means “nail.”
Clove contains several phenolic compounds, and is one of the most abundant sources of eugenol and gallic acid. The spice is also a rich source of the flavonoids kaempferol and quercetin, as well as caffeic, ferulic, elagic and salicylic acids. Due to the collective antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of these compounds, clove is widely used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. The spice is also used as a flavor and preservative in the food industry.