The Sweet Herb of the Aztes is a perennial herb. It is commonly known as Aztec Sweet Herb, Yerba Dulce, HoneyHerb, Tzopelic-xihuitl and Bushy Lippia. The botanical name is Phyla scaberrima syn lippia dulcis. The Sweet Herb of the Aztes belongs to verbenaceae family. This plant is native to Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America. Sweet leaves of Aztec Sweet Herb are often used for sweetening candies or tossed into fruit salads. The Sweet Herb of the Aztes is closely related to Mexican Oregano.
Aztec Sweet Herb can reach a height of 4–6 meters. The leaves are 1–4 cm long. This plant is generally cultivated in well-drained soil with a pH range between 6.0 and 8.0. The flowers are white, oblong-shaped, 2–4 mm long, produced in erect spikes. The leaves are harvested as and when required. They are used in its fresh or dried form. The Sweet Herb of Aztes is a low creeper that grows fast and is relatively hardy once it has settled. The Sweet Herb of Aztes is excellent in hanging baskets.
The Sweet Herbs of the Aztes has been historically used as a medicinal herb and natural sweetener in Mexico and Central America. The sweet taste of the herb is due to its active compound, hernandulcin discovered in 1985. The herb gets its name from the Spanish physician, Francisco Hernández who first wrote about the herb in the 16th century. The Herb was used for medicinal purposes in Mexico since the period of the Aztecs.
An essential constituent of the Sweet Herb of Aztes is Hernandulcin which is sweeter than sucrose but has a bitter aftertaste. This herb is much sweeter than sugar but has a lot of camphor content which makes it unsuitable to be used like sugar. This active ingredient is responsible for a fresh camphoraceous odor of the plant.
The leaves of the Sweet Herbs of the Aztes contain camphene which is particularly toxic for small children and can induce vomiting and nausea. In extreme case, it may lead to the depression and cause coma. The herb is not safe for pregnant and lactating mothers.