Stevia, Stevia rebaudiana
DESCRIPTION AND CULTURE: This tender perennial can be brought in during winter and brought out the next summer, if you want to keep it going. Stevia is as tender as basil and cannot take a frost. Height reaches 12-15 inches before it flowers small white blooms in later summer. If you can collect seeds from these fading flowers, know they are worth about 50 cents each! Stevia likes rich garden soil and full sun.
PART USED: above ground portion
FUNCTION: Data shows this plant to be from 30-200 times sweeter than sugar. I know adding one fresh or dried leaf to a cup of tea makes it taste sweet! It is delicious fresh and can be added to tomato sauces to modify the acidity. Fresh stevia has none of the metallic aftertaste of the highly processed product that comes in packages of white powder. There is some research connecting stevia to tick bites.