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The plant flowers for the first time after 8-10 years and the trees are fully flowering at around 20 years. Cloves are the nail-like spikes which are unopened flower-buds. The name derives from the Latin word ''clavus'', meaning nail.
in Branches of clustered flower-buds are removed from the stems, then handpicked and sun-dried. Clove harvesting in Madagascar takes place between October and March.<!-- fact-check-->
is have a variety of culinary and non-culinary uses. As a spice, cloves are used in curries, spicy fruit cakes, sauerkraut and a wide range of cuisines as well as beverages , such as red wine.
Non-food uses include mixing the spice with tobacco in Indonesian clove cigarettes called ''kretek'' which accounts for a large proportion of Madagascar's clove exports and world-production.
Cloves are is widely used as a base in perfumes, for example in ''l'Air du Temps'' by Nina Ricci and ''Opium'' by Yves Sain-Laurent.
Clove's main ingriedient, euganol, is a bioactive compound with anti-bacterial, fungicide, anticeptic, antioixidant, anaesthetic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory effects. It is furthermore used in aromatherapy and various traditional, human and veterinary
medicine including dentistry, toothpaste...
Euganol can however be toxic in relatively small doses. A dose of 5-10ml has been reported to be nearly fatal for a two year old. Additionally, clove oil can be used as an ant and mosquito repellent.
Clove is classified in three categories depending on harvesting and intended use: CGI - "Hand pick", CG2 - "Prima", CG3 - "Courant" (ordinary), which applies to non-food use, such as the Indonsian ''kretek'' industry.
When exported, cloves in the Prima category should have less than 16% moisture level and weight at least 70mg. The right moisture level at the time of export is
an important measure to ensure minimun weight loss while the spice is on a shop shelf or kitchen cupboard without loosing its spicy properties. A well prepared and packaged clove consignement should remain in good condition for at least two years.
Cloves from Madagascar are smaller than cloves from Sri-Lanka for example, with Madagascar's cloves
being stronger in flavour , making them best suited for cooking, while Sri-Lankan cloves may be better for making decorative pomanders.
== Additional information ==