The Chemistry of Eugenol

Every year when Christmas time comes up, we are surrounded by a plethora of scents at home or in shopping centres. The most distinctive of these are from spices, and especially cloves which contain eugenol as pictured below.


Eugenol or 2-Methoxy-4-(prop-2-en-1-yl) phenol is a pale yellow oily liquid at room temperature. It belongs to the homologous series of phenylpropene which make up many essential oils. Eugenol is mainly present in cloves which are the flower buds of the S. aromaticum tree, accounting for around 80% and gives them their characteristic smell as spices.

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Morphine and its cousins



The term ‘alkaloids’ may be unfamiliar to most of us but if I start naming some examples which fall into this group of ‘nitrogenous bases secondary metabolites’, you will know what I mean. nicotine2 Some of the big names include morphine, quinine, strychnine, nicotine etc. basically a continuous list of –ine’s. The thing to note is that though the alkaloids were attributed to pharmacologically active bases derived from plants however, animals (including us!), insects and microbes also produce them.

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