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Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni) Bertoni

Family Name: Asteraceae (Compositae)
Synonyms: Eupatorium rebaudianum
Common Name: Candy Leaf, Sugar Leaf, Sweet Herb of Paraguay, Sweet Honey Leaf, Stevia, 甜菊, 甜叶菊
Full Sun: 6-8h Semi-Shade Moderate Water Herb & Spice Woody Herbaceous

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Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Synonyms
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Comments

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Shrub (Herbaceous)
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Shrubby
Maximum Height 0.5 m to 1 m
Maximum Plant Spread / Crown Width 0.6 m

Biogeography

Native Distribution Brazil, Paraguay
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Grassland / Savannah/ Scrubland)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Herbaceous plant, up to 1m height under cultivation. Perennial in tropical and sub-tropical climates but usually grown as annual in cooler climates. 
Foliage Leaves oval to elliptical with slightly serrated margins, edible raw and sweet-tasting; in raw form, reported to be 25 - 30 times sweeter than table sugar (sucrose), source of stevioside and rebaudioside compounds used in food and pharmaceutical industries.
Flowers Flowers white, small and insignificant, produced in clusters of 2 -6 florets; plant is free-flowering, short days promote blooming.
Fruits Fruits are 1-seeded bristly achenes.
Cultivation Suitable for herb gardens and containers. Plant tends to produce more flowers and seeds when grown in full sun, and bigger leaves in semi-shade. Prefers moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soils (pH 6.1 - 6.5). Tolerates infertile sandy soils. Avoid excessive use of nitrogen-rich fertilizer which tends to produce large leaves with little flavour. Leaves have higher sugar content if harvested in the morning and before onset of flowering.Best propagated by stem cuttings which root easily. Use fresh seeds (less than 1 month after collection). Black seeds reported to germinate better than the smaller tan-coloured seeds, which are thought to be non-viable and produced without fertllization.
Etymology  Genus epithet 'Stevia' named after 16th century Spanish botanist and physician Pedro Jaime Esteve. Species epithet 'rebaundiana' named after 19th century Paraguayan chemist Oviodio Rebaudi who first isolated and extracted the sweet compounds from the plant.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Leaves)
Food (Herb and Spice : Fresh or dried leaves used in salads, sauces and beverages, or infused in boiling water to make sweet herbal tea. Fresh leaves can also be cooked and eaten as vegetable. Leaves traditionally used by indigenous South American tribes for hundreds of years to sweeten bitter medicinal drinks and tea. Nowdays, commercially cultivated for the leaves which are used as artificial zero-calorie sweetener for food and beverages in many parts of the world. )
Medicinal ( Used medicinally to treat diabetes, obesity, hypertension, fatigue, sores and infections, as well as improve digestion. Also used as a skin care product to clear blemishes, tighten skin and reduce wrinkles. )

Landscaping Features

Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Well-Drained Soils, Poor Infertile Soils, Acidic (low pH) Soils, Easy to Grow
Landscape Uses Container Planting, General
Thematic Landscaping Economic Garden, Naturalistic Garden
SGMP Treatment
Plant & Rootzone Preference or Tolerance Remarks Grows best in slightly acidic soils of pH of 6.1 to 6.5.

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Pollination Method(s) Abiotic (Self-Pollinated), Biotic (Fauna) (Insects (Bee))
Species record last updated on: 15 February 2021.
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