(From a nut, a leaf, and odour). The aroma-.
tic cloves; called also garyophyllus, hinka, and clous. It is the unripe fruit, or rather the cups of the unopened flowers, of a tree which grows in the Molucca Islands, of the natural order of the myrtles. In shape, it resembles a short thick square nail, of a rusty colour, inclining to black: in the middle of each clove are found a stylus or stamina, with their apices; at the larger end shoot out from the four angles, four little points, like a star, in the middle of which is a round ball of a lighter colour than the rest, composed of four small scales or leaves, which seem to be the unexpanded petala of the flower. The tree is the caryophytlus aromaticus Lin. Sp. Pi. 735. It, indeed, seems evidently to belong to the class icosandria; and modern botanists are said by Dr. Woodville, though we know not on what authority, to refer it to the genus eugenia. The clove tree is one of those whose flower is produced above the rudiments of the fruit: the ripe fruit, sometimes brought to England under the name of anthophyllus, or antophyllon, marked on the top with the remains of the flower, is about the size and shape of an olive, and contains, under a thin blackish shell, one or two hard kernels of the same colour, which hath a deep longitudinal seam on the side, composed each of two sinuous lobes; but this fruit is less aromatic than the immature flower. The cloves arc said to be cured by exposing them to smoke, and afterwards drying them in the sun.
The largest, heaviest, most brittle, and darkest coloured, are the best, and those which feel oily when pressed. Another mark of their goodness is, when, on piercing them with a needle, a little liquid matter, like oil, oozes out. Those that are of a light brown colour have had their oil extracted.
Cloves have a strong but agreeable smell, a bitterish hot pungent taste; are one of the hottest, and most pungent and acrid, of the aromatic class; and have all the virtues ascribed to aromatics in general. When good, they have these qualities in a great degree, and almost burn the throat when swallowed. They are remarkably disposed to imbibe humidity; and, when robbed of their active parts, and afterwards mixed with fresh cloves, they regain from them a considerable share both of taste and smell. The Dutch extract the oil from them, and then mix them with others, from which it hath not been separated; but their dryness, less pungent odour, and pale colour, discover the fraud. The Dutch also preserve the fruit with sugar, which they eat in their voyage, to stimulate the stomach and prevent scurvy.
Rectified spirit of wine takes up all the virtue of cloves: an extract from this spirituous tincture amounts to nearly one-third of the cloves used in preparing it, and retains nearly' their whole virtue. Infused in water, they give out to it more of their smell than to spirit, but not so much of their taste.
Distilled with water, they give over, very slowly,about one-sixth of their weight of essential oil, at first yellow, and afterwards a reddish brown; but if the fire is very moderate, its colour is pale: it sinks in water, is mild, and not very pungent; but the only way to have it genuine is to distil it ourselves. The Dutch oil is very acrid, and contains near half its weight of an insipid expressed oil. It is probable, that, from an admixture of the resinous part of cloves, this sophisticated oil receives both its acrimony and high colour; or, as fresh cloves are said to yield a high coloured fragrant thick oil upon expression, it may be, that the common oil of cloves, brought from the spice islands, is no other than this oil diluted with an insipid one. In Holland, the oil is distilled by holding the cloves in a moistened cloth over the fumes of hot water. Heat is applied over them; and the oil, dropping through the water, sinks to the bottom.
If the oil of cloves is adulterated with an insipid expressed oil, it is discovered by dropping a little into alcohol; and, on shaking them, the genuine oil mixes with the spirit, and the insipid oil, separating, is discovered.
Cloves are considered to act as powerful stimulants to the muscular fibres; and, in some cases of atonic gout and paralysis, may supersede most others of the aromatic class. In stomach and chlorotic complaints, they are often of considerable service. Though cloves powerfully excite the vital powers, they produce no serous discharges, and are accused of inducing constipation. In humoral asthmas they are said to be useful, and the oil rapidly cures the tooth ach. Its use as a condiment is well known. Both the spice and oil are used as correctors of some of our officinal compositions. The Dutch join it with bark and cream of tartar, in obstinate agues. Twenty cloves are added in powder to half an ounce of each of the other, and 3 ss. is given every third or fourth hour.
The oil of cloves is made into an agreeable draught by mixing it with a proper quantity of gum arabic, and then with water. See Neumann's Chem. Works. Lewis's Mat. Med. Cullen's Mat. Med.
Caryophylli suavis odoris, etc. See Canella Alba.