Clove-Tree, or Caryophyl-lus aromaticus, L. a native of the Molucca Islands, particularly of Amboyna, where it. is chiefly cultivated. The clove-tree resembles the olive in its bark, and the laurel in its height and leaves : no grass grows under it. Adorned with numerous branches, it produces vast quantities of flowers, which are at first white, then green, and at last red and hard. When they arrive at this degree of maturity, they are, properly speaking, cloves: in a dry state, they assume a dark yellowish cast, and at length a deep brown.
Cloves acquire weight by imbibing water, when suspended above it, even at some distance. The Dutch, who were formerly in the sole possession of the clove-trade, are supposed to have frequently taken advantage of that property ; but such nefarious pra6tices may be easily detected, by squeezing the cloves with the hand, and expressing their moisture.
This spice possesses a very fragrant, agreeable scent, and a bitterish pungent taste, which, in a manner, burns the mouth and throat. Considered as a medicine, cloves are very hot, stimulating aromatics. When distilled, they yield a limpid essential oil, which is often, though improperly, employed for curing the tooth-ach ; as, from its pungent nature, it is apt to corrode the gums, and injure the adjacent teeth.