Cloves are the dried flowers of the clove tree. Native to the Spice Islands near China, cloves spread throughout Europe and Asia during the late Middle Ages as an important part of local cuisine. Today, cloves remain an important spice that gives many dishes that special kick. Cloves can be used whole or ground. Strong of aroma and hot and pungent in taste, cloves are used to flavour many foods, particularly meats and bakery products. Cloves are strongly pungent owing to eugenol, which is extracted by distillation to yield oil of cloves.