Cloves come from the flower buds of an evergreen tree that is native to the North Moluccas Islands in Indonesia. Clove trees grow to about 26-40 feet and flower after about 6 years. The tree becomes fully mature in 20 years and can bear fruit for more than 80 years. The flower buds gradually develop in color and are ready for collecting when they turn bright red. Cloves are handpicked before the flower opens. Harvested cloves are 0.5-0.75 inches long and consist of stems with four unopened petals which form a small ball in the center. After harvesting, clove buds are spread out in a thin layer on a mat to dry in the sun or by using an artificial dryer (1-3).
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