Cloves are the dried flower buds of the clove tree, syzygium aromaticum
. Originating in Asia, they have been traded to most major civilisations ever since. Cloves are used throughout world cuisine, from curries in India to mulled wine, fruit pies and pomanders in the UK. In this regard, their uses range from the culinary, to the medicinal, to the frivolous.
Cloves have long been used for their pain-numbing effect, particularly in tooth-related problems, but also in other parts of the body. In addition, they have a similar antimicrobial effect to many other spices, and have been used to calm the stomach and to preserve food.
In India, cloves are often mixed with rice, along with cardamoms, to add fragrance.