Stevia rebaudiana is a perennial shrub native to South America, specifically to the countries of Paraguay and Brazil. The plant is often grown for its leaves, which contain sweet compounds called steviol glycosides that are used as a natural sweetener. The leaves of the stevia plant are oval-shaped and grow on stems that can reach up to two feet in height. The plant produces small white or lavender flowers that bloom in the summer.
Stevia grows best in well-draining soil in a sunny location. It is a fast-growing plant, but it can be sensitive to cold temperatures and may need to be protected in the winter if grown in a colder climate. To cultivate stevia successfully, a grower may need to provide the plant with adequate sunlight and water, and may need to take steps to protect it from frost.
The leaves of the stevia plant are edible and can be used as a natural sweetener in a variety of foods and beverages. They can be harvested by cutting the stems and drying the leaves in the sun or using a dehydrator. The dried leaves can be stored in an airtight container for several months.
In addition to its use as a sweetener, stevia has a number of other potential uses. Some people believe that it has medicinal properties and may be helpful in the treatment of diabetes and other conditions. The plant can also be used as a natural fertilizer, as it is known to improve soil quality and promote the growth of other plants.