Spices derive from the fruits, seeds, roots, bark, or flowers of plants – essentially, any part that isn’t a leaf. For example, cloves are the flower buds of the Syzygium aromaticum tree, cinnamon is the inner bark of the Cinnamomum verum tree, and cardamom is the seed of the Elettaria cardamomum plant. Spices can be gathered from annual, biennial, or perennial plants. They can come from any type of plant, including trees, shrubs, climbing vines, and even grasses. Some plants, such as dill, are used as both herbs and spices. The seeds of dill (Anethum graveolens) are used as a spice and the leaves as a herb.
Spices can be found all over the world. Where herbs tend to grow in more temperate parts of the world, spices often grow in tropical areas. Many spices originate from the Far East. Cloves, nutmeg, and mace are grown in the Molucca Islands in Indonesia. Capsicum spices, such as chillies, are native to Central America. Vanilla comes from South America, and allspice is derived from a tree (Pimenta dioica) native to southern Mexico, the Greater Antilles, and Central America.
Spices tend to have a piquant taste and smell, and are most commonly used as culinary enhancers. They have little caloric value, as they are not consumed in large quantities, but their primary use is to provide variety in food. Spices are also used in perfumes, cosmetics, and in liqueur. The flavors of spices derive chiefly from the essential oils that become concentrated in the spice through the drying process. Spices typically retain their flavor and aroma for approximately eighteen months.
Spices List –