For someone like me who uses stevia and whose name happens to be Steve (but whose mother always said Stevie), there’s an understandable urge to claim the plant is named for me. Turns out there’s some truth to that, because when I went to the American Heritage Dictionary and looked up the origin of the genus name Stevia, I found that it honors the botanist Petrus Jacobus Stevus, (c. 1500-1556), whose non-Latinized name was Pedro Jaime Esteve, and who was the first European to investigate the Stevia rebaudiana plants from which the sweetener is extracted. Although the dictionary described Esteve as Spanish, I recognized Esteve as the Catalan version of the name that Spanish renders Esteban and English Stephen or Steven. All those versions go back to ancient Greek stephanos, which designated a garland or crown of laurel. As for the plant with the oh-so-sweet leaves, Spanish calls it estevia, and you can read more about it in that language if you wish.
© 2014 Steven Schwartzman