ceased not to buy and sell at the several islands till we came to
the land of Hind, where we bought cloves and ginger and all manner
spices. And thence we fared on to the land of Sind, where also we
bought and sold.
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Originally from the "Spice Islands" of Southeast Asia, these dried, unopened buds of a Moluccan evergreen tree were traded into Europe even in Roman times. Beginning in the 18th century, plantations were established in Zanzibar, Madagascar, where they are produced to this day. Interestingly, they only flourish by the sea. When the buds are picked, they are pink. When dried, they carry the essential oil of eugenol, a powerful antiseptic with preservative action.