Eugenia caryophyllus

Family : Myrtaceae

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The clove tree is a medium sized symmetrically shaped tree with smooth grey bark. It is believed to be originated in Maluku Islands in Indonesia. Clove along with nutmeg and pepper were highly prized in 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 Malku Islands and valued it at seven grams of gold per kg. Later the Spanish then the Dutch dominated the trade till the seventeenth century.  The French introduced clove to Mauritius in the year 1770 subsequently the cultivations were introduced to Guiana, Zanzibar, West Indies and most of the Brazil.  It is not known how and when clove was introduced to Sri Lanka but may be the Arab traders or Colonial rulers may have brought the plant to the country as Sri Lanka was a major trading hub for spices during that time. 

Products and Uses

Clove is largely used as dried whole buds. Ground clove is used for curry mixtures and clove oil is used for flavoring foods and in pharmaceutical perfumery industry.
Cloves are used either whole or ground to provide flavor for both sweet and savory foods in pickling and the production of sauces and ketchups. In medicine it is valued as a carminative, aromatic and stimulant. It is being used in cigarette industry as a flavoring agent. Clove oil is used in perfumes, in dentistry and a clearing agent in microscopy.

Major Growing Areas

Clove is mainly grown in Mid Country wet zone of Sri Lanka. Total extent of clove is 7618ha. and Kandy, Kegalle and Matale districts are major growing areas.


No specific varieties have been identified. However there are trees produce bigger size clove buds which are called as “Bothal Karabu”.

Soils and Climatic needs


Clove thrives well in a variety of soils. Deep and rich loams with high humus content are best suited for the crop. It also grows satisfactorily on laterite soils. Pure sandy soil is unsuitable for this crop. Clove does not tolerate water logging and therefore land selected for this crop should be well drained.

Clove grows well in a humid tropical climate from sea level up to 1000m elevation.
An average rainfall of 1750- 2500mm. per annum is sufficient. It is however, necessary that dry periods alternate with moist ones for good flowering
The annual average temperature should be 20 o - 30o C without much seasonal and diurnal variation.
Persistent strong winds are harmful.
Shade is essential during the first two or three years of growth. Thereafter full exposure to light is beneficial.

Crop establishment

Planting material

Clove is propagated through seeds. Tree ripe fruits should be sown immediately since the viability of seeds is rapidly lost within 48 hours of collection. Seeds obtained by removing outer pulp show early and uniform sprouting. The seeds are sown in perforated polythene bags consist of equal parts of well decomposed farm yard manure, top soil and coarse sand. The size of the polythene bags may vary from 10 Χ 20cm to 25 Χ 40cm depending on the time kept in nurseries before field planting. Bigger plants (15-20months) establish better in the field.

Field planting: Spacing: 20’Χ20’(250 plants/ha)
Temporary shade for 2-3 years is necessary. Artificial shade for newly established plants may be required during sunny seasons. Whenever possible ground cover crops such as leguminous sps, which do not compete with clove, should be established as a soil conservation measure.

Crop management

Fertilizer application

Recommended mixture - 625 kg / ha at the 10th year and after (density 250 plants/ha)


Components of the mixture
Parts by weight
Nutrient in the mixture
Urea (46%N) 2 13%N
Rock phosphate ( 28 % P2O5) 2 8% P2O5
Muriate of potash (K2O) 3 25% K2O
Kieserite (24%MgO) 1/3 1% MgO

Rate of fertilizer application:


Maha Season

(mixture g/plant.)

Yala Season

(mixture g/plant.)

1 120 120
2 250 250
3 375 375
4 500 500
5 625 625
6 750 750
7 875 875
8 1000 1000
9 1125 1125
10 yr. onwards 1250 1250

Crop Protection


No serious diseases and pests have been reported in Sri Lanka

No serious pest and diseases have been reported in Sri Lanka except wilting of nursery plants in large proportions. The incidence of wilting can be controlled by controlling shade and water application. Leaf spotting due to Pestalots sp. and Collectotrichum sp is fairly common in nurseries and during wet weather, but do not seem to have any serious effects.

Harvesting and Post Harvest practices

The right stage of harvesting clove buds is when flower petals change their colour from olive green to yellow pink. Clusters of flowers are harvested together with the stalks. The harvesting season commences usually in December and extends up to the end of April depending upon the locality.
The average yield of dry cloves in Sri Lanka is about 250kg/ha.Under good management conditions a yield of abut 850kg/ha can be obtained.

The flower buds should be detached from the stalks and both buds and stalks are dried in sun or artificial drier until they become dark brown and hard. Well dried good quality cloves are in golden brown color and badly dried cloves are soft and pale brown with a whitish mealy appearance which are known as “khuker” cloves. Green clove buds of the right stage give about 30% dry cloves. Well dried cloves (8-10% moisture) can be stored in gunny bags without damage by fungus and insects for 1 or 2 years.


Standard quality specifications

The specifications given by the Sri Lanka Slandered Institute is as follows.




Gr.2 Gr.3
Khuker cloves max. % by mass. 3 5 10
Cloves below 10mm length max % by mass 15 25 N.A
Extraneous matter max % by mass 1 2 3
Moisture max. % by mass 12 12 14


Medicinal and Chemical Properties

Eugenol comprises 72-90% of the essential oil extracted from cloves and the compound is most responsible for the aroma of cloves. Other important essential oil constituents of clove oil include acetyl eugenol, beta-caryophyllene and vanillin, crategolic acid, gallotannic acid, methyl salicylate, eugenin, kaempferol, rhammentin, eugenitin, oleanolic acid, sigmasterol and campesterol.

Clove is used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine, Chinese medicine, western herbalism and in the dentistry, where the essential oil is traditionally used as an anodyne (painkiller) for dental emergencies. Cloves have carminative effect to increase hydrochloric acid in the stomach and to improve peristalsis. Clove oil is used in various skin disorders like acne, pimples etc. and also used in skin burns , skin irritation and sensitiveness of skin.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 July 2018 10:32