Native to tropical America (from the mountains of Texas to the mountains of Mexico, Ecuador and Peru), candyleaf is a perennial plant that bears clusters of white flowers.

Candyleaf has not been regarded as a weed overseas, but dense stands in north Queensland suggest that it may have invasive potential, particularly on open disturbed sites.

Candyleaf is a restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Stevia ovata


  • Perennial plant, 40-80cm tall.
  • Flowers are small, white, in clusters.
  • Leaves are variable in shape, 3-6cm long, generally in opposite pairs along stem but sometimes alternately.


  • Prefers open, disturbed, rocky sites, generally on mountains at high altitudes.
  • Can be found along roadsides and in woodlands and native pastures.

Distribution in Queensland

  • Known to occur near Ravenshoe on the Atherton Tableland.


  • Limited information available on scale of impact, but candyleaf could become significant pest.


  • Out-competes native pastures that may be used for grazing.


  • Can form dense stands.
  • Invades disturbed and undisturbed land.

Legal requirements

  • Candyleaf is a restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.
  • It must not be given away, sold, or released into the environment without a permit.
  • The Act requires everyone to take all reasonable and practical steps to minimise the
    risks associated with invasive plants and animals under their control. This is called a general
    biosecurity obligation (GBO).
  • At a local level, each local government must have a
    biosecurity plan that covers invasive plants and animals in its area. This plan may include
    actions to be taken on certain species. Some of these actions may be required under local laws.
    Contact your local government for more information.

More information