Saturday, May 22, 2010
Exhibit A is the herb known as Stevia rebaudiana, or 'Sweet Leaf', which describes its use as a natural, calorie free sweetener. This was a plant purchased in 2009, and although it can be grown from seed, the grower must expect a naturally low germination rate (been there/done that, but some seeds did germinate).
I found the remains of this specimen a couple of months ago while autopsy-ing the garden that was subjected to several feet of snow this past winter, and many weeks of below freezing temperatures, a number of which were in the single digits. Low and behold, there were not just remains. There were the bare beginnings of leaf buds apparent when I found it, so out of the ravaged garden it came and into a pot on the light stand it went.
S. rebaudiana is not supposed to survive winters in the Mid-A. Matter of fact, it is supposed to expire at the mere mention of a mild frost. This guy was apparently out of the loop. It took quite a while for the leaves to approach anything substantial this season, but by golly they are there now.
Not that this is any proof of a winter-hardy strain of Sweet Leaf yet, but it is proof that there are outliers in every crowd. May try some cuttings later in the season, and see how they react to another winter exposure.