Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni) Bertoni

Last updated: 6 June 2016

Scientific Name

Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni) Bertoni  


Eupatorium rebaudianum Bertoni, Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni) Hemsl. [Illegitimate] [1]

Vernacular Name

English Stevia, sweet herb of Paraguay, honey-yerba [2] Candy leaf (Engl.),honey yerba, sweet herb,sweet honey leaf, sweat leaf [3]
China Tian ju ye [3]
India Meethi patti. [3] madhu patra [4]
Indonesia Stevia [2]
Thailand Ya-wan [2] satiwia [4]
Vietnam c[or] ng[oj]t [2]
Paraguay Caa-ehe [2] Kaa jhee [3][5]
German Honigkraut, subkraut [4]
Italy Piccolo arbusto con foglia dolce, stevia [4]
Hungary Jazmin pakoca [4]
Spain Yerba dulce [3][4][5]
Portugal Capim doceestevia, erva doce [4].

Geographical Distributions

Stevia rebaudiana is new to Malaysia even though it is commercially cultivated in Brazil, Paraguay, United States of America and some Asian countries such as China, Japan, China, Korea and even Thailand. [6]

Botanical Description

S. rebaudiana is an erect growing plant and in Malaysia it can grow to 20-30 cm tall before it starts flowering. The leaves are green, developed in pairs measuring about 2.5-3.5 cm wide and 3-6 cm long. The flowers are white measuring about 8-15 mm in diameter and formed at the tip of the growing shoots. The mature seeds are black and very small (0.5–1.0 g/1,000 seeds). It has shallow but vigorous root systems. [6]



Figure 1: The full grown S. rebaudiana [6]




Figure 2: The growth habits of ‘S. rebaudiana [6]

Soil Suitability and Climate Requirement

Stevia’ is highly adaptable and can be planted on various soil types. It is however more suited on loam and sandy loam soil with high organic matter content. The plant requires long days for maximum growth before it starts flowering. The critical sunshine hour is about 13 for maximum growth, biomass yield and thus the steviosides content. Under growing conditions with 13-16 daily sunshine hours, the crop can grow to 0.6–1.0 m tall before it starts flowering. [6]


Field Preparation

Land Preparation

Good field preparation is very important for good crop growth. This includes preparation of drainage system and field tillage. The recommended bed size is 120 cm wide with the working area of about 30 cm between the beds. The height of the bed is about 30 cm. [6]

Production of Planting Materials

The plant can be propagated either by using seeds, tissue culture or stem cuttings. The tissue culture plantlets are usually very expensive. Using seeds as planting materials is also not practical since it takes longer time (40-60 days) before it can be transplanted to the field. Stem cutting is the most practical since it is cheaper, easier and takes less time as compared to seeds or tissue culture technique. Choosing mother plants as source of cuttings is very important. Such plants should be at their vegetative growth stage (not yet flowering), vigorously growing and free from pest and disease infections. The cuttings should have 2-3 leaf internodes. The cuttings can either be raised in polybag or planting tray. [6][7]



Figure 3: Seedlings prepared from stem cuttings [6]

Field Planting

The cuttings start to develop roots after 1-2 weeks of sowing and ready for field planting 4 weeks later. The recommended plant spacing is 20 cm within a row and 22 cm between rows. Each planting bed measuring 1.2 m can accommodate 5 rows. This will give the population density of about 166,000 plants/ha. [6][7]




Figure 4: Field planting of S. rebaudiana on alluvial soil [6]

Field maintenance


Both the organic and inorganic fertilisers should be used for good plant growth. The organic fertiliser such as processed chicken manure should be given as basal dressing at the rate of 0.5 t/ha by broadcasting before the beds are prepared. Both the compound (NPK=12:12:17:2+Te) and processed chicken manure are used as side dressing fertilisers. The first side dressing by using compound fertiliser at the rate of 0.5 t/ha should be given only after the second ratoon (harvest). The subsequent side dressing is given after each harvest by alternating the organic and compound fertiliser at the rate of 1.0 t/ha. These fertilisers are incorporated into the beds. [6][7]

Weed Control

Proper land preparation before planting is the key in controlling weeds in the field. Manual weeding while incorporating the side dressing fertilisers into the soil is an important practice for weed control.  Planting at higher density (200,000 plants/ha) and organic mulching can also help to reduce weed problem in S. rebaudiana [6][7]

Water management

Consistent water supply is important during the growth period. Water stress will reduce vegetative growth and early flowering. Sprinkler irrigation system is recommended since it is easy to maintain. [6]

Pest and Disease Control

S. rebaudiana does not have insect pest problem. The common diseases infecting ‘stevia’ are stem rot (caused by Rhizoctonia solani and Sclerotinia rolsii). Practising good agriculture practice can control Rhizoctonia solani. [6][7]


Harvesting is done when flower buds start to develop. At this stage, the vegetative growth starts to stop. The level of its bioactive content (steviosides) is reported highest at this stage. Harvesting is done by cutting the stem at about 5-10 cm above the soil level. The subsequent harvests are done at 30-35 days intervals. The potential yield is about 20-50 g/plant. [6][7]




Figure 5: The plants are ready for harvesting [6]

Postharvest handling

The plants should be dried once it is harvested. Delaying in drying can deteriorate the physical and chemical quality of the produce. The steviosides content is reduced almost by 33% in only three days without proper drying. Drying can be done either by using commercial drying ovens or sun drying. For good storage, the moisture content of dried ‘stevia’ should be less than 10%. [6]

Estimated cost of production

The cost of production for a three year production period is about RM155,000. This includes the cost of land preparations, agriculture inputs and labour for crop maintenance, harvesting and postharvest handling activities. Based on the yield of about 11 t/ha/year (33 t/3 years), the production cost of dried ‘stevia’ is about RM4.69/kg. The production cost was estimated based on the cost of current inputs during writing of this article. [6]

Chemical Constituent

S. rebaudiana has been reported to contain protein (10-20.4), fat (1.9-5.6), ash (6.3-15.5), carbohydrate (35.2-61.9), crude fiber (6.8-15.2). The compounds viz stevioside (3-10% of dry leaf weight), rebaudioside A (1-3%), stevioside, steviol, steviolbioside, rebaudioside A, rebaudioside B, rebaudioside C, rebaudioside D, and dulcoside A which contribute to sweetness of stevia. [5]

S. rebaudiana has been reported to contain palmitic acid 27.51-29.5, palmitoleic acid 1.27-3.0, stearic acid 1.18-4.0, oleic acid 4.36-9.9, linoleic acid 12.40-16.8, and linolenic acid 21.59-36.2. [5]

S. rebaudiana has been reported to contain arginine, lysine, histidine, phenylalanine, leucine, methionine, valine, threonin, and isoleucine. Non-essential amino acids were aspartate, serine, glutamic, proline, glycine, alanine, cystein, and tyrosine. [5]

S. rebaudiana has been reported to contain minerals of potassium 2.51g%, calcium 1.55g%, magnesium 0.50g%, phosphorus 0.35g%, sodium 0.16g%, sulphur 0.12g%, iron 363.00 ppm, manganese 98.30 ppm, zinc 63.90 ppm, copper 10.40 ppm, molybdenum 1.14 ppm, selenium 0.57 ppm, cobalt 0.27 ppm. [5]

S. rebaudiana has been reported to contain tannins, alkaloids, cardiac glycosides, saponins, sterols and triterpenes, reducing compounds, anthraquinones, cyanogenetic glycosides. [5]

Plant Part Used

Leaves [4][5].

Traditional Use

The leaves of S. rebaudiana contain rebaudioside A (R-A) and steviosides (St) which are 180-400 and 110-270 times sweeter respectively as compared to cane sugar. Thus, S. rebaudiana is used as sweetener, an alternative to sugar for the diabetic patients and those on diet because of the very low calorie and no carbohydrates, fats or proteins. It is also reported to have antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. [6][7][8][9][10]

Preclinical Data



S. rebaudiana has been reported to showed marked inhibition of inflammatory activity induced by TPA in mice from the 100 methanol extracts from spices studied, hop, stevia, cinnamon, tumeric, mate, mint, New Zealand spinach, watercress, tomatoes and radish seedling. Two active compounds, humulone and lupeol 3-palmitate were separated from hop and stevia, respectively. [5]          


S. rebaudiana has been reported be effective compound or supplementary therapy for hypertension using stevioside capsules (Nan Kai Chemical Factory, Tien Jing, China) 250 mg 3 times daily, the study found stevioside. Study showed stevioside caused vasorelaxation through an inhibition of Ca influx into the blood vessels. [5]


S. rebaudiana has been reported to be useful as a potential source of natural antioxidants by study of ethanolic and ethyl acetate extracts. [5] Study showed that stevia, besides its sweetness, can act as a source of antioxidants, even at the intracellular level. [5] Study evaluated the effects of stevia leaves and its extracted polyphenols and fiber on STZ induced diabetic rats. Results showed, besides its hypoglycemic effect, a significant role in reducing risk of oxidative stress and alleviating liver and kidney damage in STZ induced diabetic rats. [5]


S. rebaudiana has been reported by study on STZ-induced diabetes in rats showed stevioside lowered blood glucose. It dose-dependently decreased the protein levels of phosphoenol pyruvate carboxykinase, reduced insulin resistance in diabetic animals. Study concludes that stevioside regulates blood glucose by enhancing insulin secretion and insulin utilization in insulin-deficient rats. [5]

Weight Reducing

S. rebaudiana has been reported by study of powdered form of Stevia leaves on STZ-induced diabetic rats showed significant hypoglycemic effects and body weight reducing effects. [5]

Antimicrobial / Anti-Tumor Activities

S. rebaudiana has been reported to showed effective antibacterial potential. The acetone extract showed no toxicity to normal cells and showed both anti-proliferative and anticancer activities. Study confirms the antimicrobial and antitumor activities of various S. rebaudiana leaf extracts, suggesting a potential drug that warrants further studies and development. [5]

Glucose Tolerance Effect

Aqueous extracts of S. rebaudiana on glucose tolerance in normal volunteers has been showed an increase in glucose tolerance, with a significant decrease of plasma glucose during the test and after overnight fasting in all volunteers. [5]

Male Fertility Effects

Study on prepubertal rats showed chronic administration of S. rebaudiana has been reported to decrease plasma testosterone levels probably a putative affinity of glycosides of the extract for a certain androgen receptor. Results suggest extracts may decrease fertility of male rats. [5]

Antibacterial / Wound Infected Pathogens

S. rebaudiana has been reported to have antibacterial activity against wound infected pathogens. Highest inhibition zone was seen with the ethanol extract followed by chloroform, ether, and hexane. Staphylococcus was significantly suppressed followed by K. pneumonia, E. coli, and P. aeruginosa. [5]


S. rebaudiana has been reported to have the anti-cariogenic and anti-periodontophatic properties of Stevia extracts. S. rebaudiana presents properties that are potentially anti-caries and anti-periodontal disease. S. rebaudiana is postulated as a potential therapeutic complement in odontological care, especially in patients with obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Â [5]

Hepatoprotective / Leaves

S. rebaudiana has been reported to show the hepatoprotective activity of aqueous extract of leaves of S. rebaudiana against thioacetamide induced hepatotoxicity. [5]


No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

No documentation

Side effects

No documentation

Pregnancy/Breast Feeding

No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing

No documentation


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  2. Mohede J, van Son RTM. Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni) Bertoni. In: de Guzman CC, Siemonsma JS, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 13: Spices. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher, 1999; p. 207-211
  3. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume III R-Z. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 411
  4. Brigitte Mars AHG. The desktop guide to herbal medicine: The ultimate multidisciplinary reference to the amazing realm of healing plants, in a quick-study, one-stop guide. Volume 1-3. Australia: Accessible Publishing Systems Pty Ltd, 2009.p.187-189.
  5. Philippines medicinal plants. Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni) Bertoni. [homepage on the internet] No date [updated Sept 2015; cited 2016 June 7]. Available from:
  6. Tan SL, Wan Zaki WM, Muhammad Ghawas M, Mansor P, Zawayi M. Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni). In: Musa Y, Mansor P, Yahaya H, Wan Zaki WM, Aini Z, editors. Teknologi Penananaman dan Pemprosesan Primer Tumbuhan Ubatan. Serdang, Selangor: MARDI; 2010.
  7. Muhammad Ghawas M, Mansor P, Muhamad Azhar AB, Wan Zaki WM, Zawayi M. Penanaman dan pengeluaran tanaman stevia. MARDI: Buletin Teknologi Tanaman Bil. 6; 2009.
  8. Crammer B, Ikan R. Sweet glycosides from the stevia plant. Chemistry in  Britain. 1986;22(10): 915-917
  9. Tan SL, Muhammad Ghawas M, Mohamad Najib MY, Zawayi M. Preliminary evaluation and selection of Stevia under Malaysian conditions. J Trop Agric Food Sci. 2008;36(2):000-000.
  10. Chang SS, Cook JM. Stability studies of stevioside and rebaudioside A in carbonated beverages. J Agric Food Chem. 1983;31:409-412