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Prized for its distinct flavour and aroma, and also for its medicinal qualities, cloves are the immature buds of the evergreen tree Syzygium aromaticum , also known as Eugenia caryophyllus of the Myrtaceae family. A fully grown clove tree is about 15-20 metres tall and has smooth grey bark. Ceylon Clove is notably richer in oil than the clove varieties produced elsewhere in the world.

Clove, one of the most prized and expensive spices from the ancient times, is native to the Maluku Islands or the Moluccas in the Indonesian Archipelago. Although the time and manner of introduction of cloves into Sri Lanka are not known, the general belief is that the Arabs or colonists brought the crop to the island as Sri Lanka was a major market for spices.

Along with nutmeg and pepper, clove was highly prized in the Roman Era. Cloves were traded by Arabs in the Middle ages but in the 15th century, Portugal took over the trade. The Portuguese brought large quantities of cloves to Europe mainly from the Maluku Islands and valued it at seven grams of gold per kilogram. Later on, the Spanish, and then the Dutch dominated the trade until the seventeenth century. The French introduced clove to Mauritius in the year 1770. Afterwards, clove cultivation was introduced to Guiana, Zanzibar, West Indies and most of Brazil.

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