Ancient Cloves

Ancient Cloves                                                                                                                                         pylae antique

Gamalama volcano

On Ternate, one of Indonesia’s fabled Spice Islands, stands Afo – the world’s oldest clove tree. The tree is estimated to be about 400 years old. Although there are thousands of trees older than that, this one is special.

In the mid-1600s, the Dutch East India Company monopolized the production and trade of spices. They kept strict control over supply in order to keep prices high – any person that was caught growing, stealing, or possessing the clove plant without a permit would face the death penalty.

Despite the thousands of men that were slaughtered over Spice laws, this tree in Indonesia somehow went unnoticed. In fact, Afo is at least partially responsible for the end of the Dutch monopoly on cloves… A Frenchman named Poivre (Pepper!!!) stole some of her seedlings in 1770. They made their way to the Seychelles Islands, and then to Zanzibar, which is now the largest producer of cloves in the world.

Afo shows us the power of Nature’s resilience and stubbornness – a rebel on a hill that stood the test of time, and refused to be controlled by man.



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