Stevia is a small shrub native to the region of South America where the borders of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil meet. The scientific name for stevia is Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni and it is a member of the largest family of plants, Asteraceae which is also called the “sunflower family”. There are 240 close relatives of stevia and they are all herbs or shrubs originating from the tropical and semi-tropical areas of North, Central and South America. The discovery of the sweetness of the stevia plant is attributed to an Italian-Swiss botanist, Dr. Moisés S. Bertoni, in 1901. However, researchers believe the use of the plant to sweeten medicines and foods by indigenous people dates prior to the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century.
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