FWD 2 American Botanical Council: Identification of Medicinal Plants

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Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni) Bertoni

Standardized Common Name: Stevia

Other Common Names: Candyleaf, Paraguayan Sweet Herb, Sweetleaf

Family: Asteraceae (Compositae)

Taxonomy: Stevia includes over 200 tropical American species. Stevia rebaudiana is endemic to Paraguay in the wild, although often cultivated elsewhere. So far as is known, no common related species shares the sweet taste for which the leaves are valued.

Description: Perennial subshrub; stems erect, 30–80(–140) cm high. Leaves opposite, sessile, lanceolate to spatulate-oblanceolate, (2–)3–5 cm long, 5–17(–25) mm broad; base cuneate; apex obtuse; margins serrate only above the middle. Inflorescence a loose panicle of heads (capitula), each with 5 disk florets. Involucre cylindrical; bracts (phyllaries) 5–8 mm long, narrowly lanceolate with acute apices. Receptacle flat, without bracts (paleae) beneath individual florets. Florets tubular, as long as involucre to twice as long; corolla tube white or pale purple; lobes 5, small, white, spreading. Fruit an achene (technically a cypsella), ca. 3 mm long, longitudinally ridged; pappus a single ring of 15–17 bristles.

Parts in Commerce: Leaves


  • Lanceolate to oblanceolate or oblong, (2–)3–5 cm long, 5–17(–25) mm broad
  • Base cuneate, with long taper to narrow attachment at stem, sessile or with very short petiole
  • Apex obtuse
  • Margins entire toward base, serrate to crenate toward apex with shallow blunt teeth
  • 3 main veins, with few netted secondary veins between them
  • Texture varying from papery to almost leathery
  • Olive to brownish green, often darker above
  • Bearing short, inconspicuous hairs, especially near margins
  • Taste strongly sweet


Robinson BL. The Stevias of Paraguay. Contrib Gray Herb Harvard Univ. 1930;90:79–90.

Soejarto DD. Botany of Stevia and Stevia rebaudiana. In: Kinghorn AD, ed. Stevia: the Genus Stevia. London: Taylor & Francis; 2002:18–39. Medicinal and Aromatic Plants—Industrial Profiles, vol. 19. 

Figure 72: Stevia rebaudiana leaf.