Cloves is the common name for a small, tropical evergreen tree, and for its aromatic, dried, unopened flower buds, which are used as a spice. The term also is used simply as the name of the spice, and often in the plural as cloves. In another sense of the term, clove also can mean one section of a separable bulb, such as a clove of garlic.
Cloves are one of the world's most important, popular, and useful plants. As a culinary spice, cloves impart a strong aroma and pungent taste that have enhanced the human enjoyment of many foods in cuisines all over the world. The essential oil is also valued for its use in flavorings and perfumes and its important antiseptic, analgesic, and anesthetic medicinal properties. Because of such values, cloves, originating from the Spice Islands, were central to the early spice trade, and remain quite prized today.