The botanical name for bitterleaf is Vernonia amygdalina. There are approximately 200 species of Vernonia distributed over the tropical countries of Africa, and the plant is used as food and medicine.
Characterized by bitter green leaves, V. amygdalina is believed to stimulate the digestive system when it is consumed. V. amygdalina, which grows as a shrub or a small tree, is also used to treat diarrhea, malaria, fertility problems, hepatitis, fever and intestinal worms. Plants that are cultivated generally have less bitter-tasting leaves than their wild counterparts. V. amygdalina typically grows along rivers, lakes, woodlands and grasslands, but it can be propagated by taking stem cuttings.