Scientific name: Stevia rebaudiana. Name in different languages:- English: Candy leaf, Sweet leaf, Sweet Honey Leaf, Stevia, Sugarleaf. South Africa: Heuningblaar. German: Honigkraut. Marathi: Madhu parani. Punjabi: Gurmaar. Sanskrit: Madhu patra. Japan: Amaha sutebia. Thai: Satiwia. Telugu: Madhu patri. Tamil: Seeni tulsi. Malayalam: Madhura thulasi.
Stevia or Madhura thulasi is a very important medicinal plant at present times. The botanical name of it is Stevia rebaudiana. Sugar or glucose is the important source of energy for us. The number of diabetic patients is increasing day by day and stevia is nature’s gift for such patients. The sugar extracted from it can be used by diabetic patients even though is much more sweet than cane sugar. Stevias extract is available in powdered form and this is widely used in the making of sweets.
Stevia or Madhura thulasi grows well in any soil with moisture content and organic matter. But areas with water logging are not ideal to grow stevias. Propagation in stevia is done by planting the top end of the plant (tender stem). Healthy stems are selected while planting and the stems should be 15 cm long.
The stems used for propagation are first planted in polythene covers for roots to set and then re planted. Polythene covers are filled with top soil and dried cow dung and then the tender stems are planted. The stems should be planted as soon as they are plucked from the mother plant. Water should be provided adequately and these saplings are ready to be re planted after one month. The place selected for planting stevia saplings have to be thoroughly ploughed so as to make the soil airy. Platforms with half a meter width are made to plant the stevia saplings. The distance between each plant must be 20cm. Water is essential for the growth of it, but excess water is also harmful.
The leaves of the plant have medicinal properties. Since the sprouting of leaves become less, once the flowers start blooming, it is necessary to pluck off the flowers early itself, and this should be continued so as to get more leaves. Harvesting can be done after 3 months. The stems are cut 12 cm from the ground while harvesting it. After harvest, watering should be done and also cow’s urine diluted in water should also be added. With good care, harvesting can be done every three month and one stevia plant can survive up to 3 years. Cultivation of it can turn out into a good source of income.