steviaStevia (Stevia rebaudiana) is a plant of tropical and subtropical Brazil and Paraguay. It is used as a sweetener, and also known as Sweet Leaf, Sugar Leaf, Sweet Honey Leaf.

The plant is during May - June offered in garden centers under the name ’honey herb’, or ’Stepa’.
Stevia likes hot and humid in slightly acidic sandy loam soil but does not like wet feet. Growing from seed is difficult because the plant is self sterilizing and only 13-15% of the seed germinates, even with good and fresh seed.

From the leaves of Stevia a natural sweetener concentrate is made​​: stevioside. It is a glycoside, 200-300 times sweeter than sugar (aka steviol glycoside). The sweetness is delayed percieved. It also has a strong bitter taste and an unpleasant aftertaste.
The leaves also contain rebaudioside. This sweetener is 400 times as sweet as sugar, and the flavor seems better!

Hobby breeders grind the dried leaves to use the powder as a sweetener. Another method to make the extract is heated in water.

In Europe, the use of Stevia is no longer banned only since late 2011. Forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest?