(Syzygium aromaticum) 'Clove', which is from the French clou, a nail, and ultimately from Latin clavus, is the dried, unopened flower bud of this evergreen tree. The fruit is called "Mother of Cloves" (J W Parry). They were in use in China in the third century BC, and they were also known to the Romans. But it was not until the Middle Ages that they were introduced into the rest of Europe (H G Baker), and then they must have been extremely expensive, valuable enough to pay for a year's rent on a manor, for the manor of Pokerley, County Durham, was held by the provision of one clove on St Cuthbert's Day, annually (Blount). Oil of cloves is used in medicine. It is a disinfectant and dental analgesic (Schauenberg & Paris), much used in domestic medicine, and even as a laxative, according to a Suffolk record. They had to be boiled in water and steeped overnight (V G Hatfield. 1994). It is a magical spice, too. Not all that long ago, people in Indonesia wore cloves stuck into their nostrils and lips, so that demons could not enter the body there (Swahn).

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