Medicinal Plant Lexicon


Botanical name

Clove tree - Syzygium aromaticum (L.) Merr. et L. M. Perry


Myrtle family (Myrtaceae)

Useful information about the plant

The centre of origin of the clove tree is a volcanic island chain, located west of New Guinea, where even today there are still wild clove trees. From there it went south to the Ambon and Seram islands where it was gradually domesticated. Today, the clove tree is grown as a crop in many tropical countries. The epithet aromaticum describes the intense, aromatic scent of the leaves. The evergreen clove tree is 20m high, bears leathery, glossy leaves and whitish-pink flowers in three triple-forked cymes.

Medicinally used parts of plants (herbal drug)

The dried flower buds ("cloves") with its distinctive scent, which is clearly perceived when rubbed, are used. An essential oil is created ("clove oil"), located in major oil chambers in the flower tissue. The commercially available drug, which is also used as a flavouring, is from Madagascar, Indonesia, Malaysia, Zanzibar, Pemba, Sri Lanka and South American imports.

Constituents of the herbal drug

Cloves contain an essential oil ("clove oil"), with its aromatic odour of eugenol (main component), as well as flavonoids and tannins.

Quality of the drug

The quality of the following drugs or drug preparations is specified in the European Pharmacopoeia (Ph. Eur):

  • Cloves (Caryophylli flos)
  • Clove oil (Caryophylli floris aetheroleum)

Medical applications

Recognised medical use

Just the essential oil and the eugenol isolated from it are used for medicinal purposes. Clove oil is used locally for inflammatory lesions of the oral and pharyngeal mucosa and in dentistry for local analgesia (Commission E).

Herbal drug preparations in finished dosage forms

  • Clove is a flavouring ingredient in tea blends
  • Clove oil in mouthwashes (1 - 5%)


Prepared drugs: see package insert;
Otherwise, rinse the mouth several times daily with diluted mouthwash; undiluted clove oil is used as a local analgesia in dentistry.

Preparation of a tea

Side effects

Undiluted clove oil can cause tissue irritation.


Not known


Herbal drug monographs

Commission E, WHO (Vol. 2)

Further literature

Wichtl: Teedrogen und Phytopharmaka, pg. 154
Schilcher: Leitfaden Phytotherapie, pg. 106
Van Wyk: Handbuch der Arzneipflanzen, pg. 315
Kommentar zum Europäischen Arzneibuch (Cloves, no. 0376)

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