Cloves are originally only native to a tiny group of islands near Indonesia, though they are now grown around the world. During the peak of the Age of Exploration, various European nations battled each other over control for these Spice Islands, which were the only place in the world one could find precious cloves and nutmeg.
The buds of clove trees turn pink just before they blossom, marking the point at which they must be harvested quickly. A single tree yields around seven pounds of this rich, sweet spice. A whole clove placed in your mouth will have a numbing effect due to the high percentage of eugenol. Before modern anesthetics were created, dentists would prescribe cloves to be packed around the infected area to numb pain, and cloves remain an ingredient in the pain management medicine used after certain orthodontic procedures, as many people who have had their wisdom teeth removed know..
In French cooking, a crucial ingredient to any good stock is a whole onion that has been studded with cloves. Here in the US, we use cloves mainly to stud pork roast and ham. Cloves are also great for making beautiful, sweet smelling pomander balls that will last for years.
Ceylon whole cloves contain about 300 - 400 cloves per half cup.