Until modern times, cloves grew only on a few islands in the Maluku Islands (historically called the Spice Islands), nevertheless, they found their way west to the Middle East and Europe over 2000 years ago. Whole cloves are the dried, unopened flower buds of a small, aromatic, evergreen tree. The cloves are grown in clusters and are picked when they begin to turn red.
Strongly flavoured with sweet, bitter and hot tones cloves are used all over the world as an integral part of many spice blends and in biscuits, cakes, stewed fruit and pickles. Whole cloves are very popular at Christmas time for studding baked ham.