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Perilla frutescens is often confused with:
Coleus scutellarioides Plectranthus scutellarioides 'Pinata' summer
Ocimum basilicum Ocimum basilicum
Urtica dioica Urtica dioica
Native alternative(s) for Perilla frutescens:
Monarda didyma Flowers
Pycnanthemum muticum Pycnanthemum muticum
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Anchusa capensis Anchusa capensis
Canna Flower
Lonicera tatarica Lonicera tatarica

Shiso Perilla frutescens

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
per-IL-lah froo-TESS-enz
This plant is an invasive species in North Carolina
Description

 

Beefsteak plant is an annual edible in the Lamiaceae (mint) family native to the Himalayas and Southeast Asia.  It has showy flowers and fragrant purple red leaves that can resemble raw meat, hence the common name. The genus name Perilla comes from the Latin word pera meaning bag in reference to the shape of the fruiting calyx.  While the specific epithet frutescens means shrubby or bushy.

This plant grows quickly and aggressively up to 3 feet tall and 1 1/2 feet wide.  Pinching off the flowers before they go to seed will help slow the spread of its wind-dispersed seeds.  When left to its own, it will self-seed prolifically.  It is found growing along roadsides and disturbed areas growing into natural spaces outcompeting endemic plants.  It grows best in the full sun  to partial shade in rich, moist to dry soil.  This plant is very resistant to heat and drought. 

Quick ID:

  • Opposite, ovate leaves with serrate margin and musky mint fragrance when crushed.
  • Small bell shaped flowers appear in spikes in leaf axils.
  • Square stems with short hairs.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No serious insect or disease problems.  Because this plant is invasive alternatives should be considered. 

See this plant in the following landscapes:
Poolside Garden Round Garden Bed Four-Season Garden Woodland Walk
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Purple Shiso'
    Purple leaves
  • var. crispa
    Shiso; more deeply toothed leaves and different flavor
'Purple Shiso', var. crispa
Tags:
#invasive#full sun tolerant#heat tolerant#annuals#drought tolerant#purple leaves#weedy#fragrant leaves#red leaves#showy leaves#colorful leaves#high maintenance#moist soil#aggressive#well-drained soil#fragrant stems#rich soils#wind dispersed seeds#self-seeding#disturbed areas#edible leaves#hairy stems
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Purple Shiso'
    Purple leaves
  • var. crispa
    Shiso; more deeply toothed leaves and different flavor
'Purple Shiso', var. crispa
Tags:
#invasive#full sun tolerant#heat tolerant#annuals#drought tolerant#purple leaves#weedy#fragrant leaves#red leaves#showy leaves#colorful leaves#high maintenance#moist soil#aggressive#well-drained soil#fragrant stems#rich soils#wind dispersed seeds#self-seeding#disturbed areas#edible leaves#hairy stems
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Perilla
    Species:
    frutescens
    Family:
    Lamiaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Himalayas to Southeast Asia
    Edibility:
    Leaves as a salad herb, flavoring
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 3 in. - 1 ft. 6 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Edible
    Herb
    Weed
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    High
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    10a, 10b, 11a, 11b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gray/Silver
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    .06 inch reticulate nutlet gray-brown
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Spike
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Bell
    Lipped
    Flower Petals:
    2-3 rays/petals
    fused petals
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Small, two-lipped bell-shaped white in spike-like inflorescences that emerge from leaf axils up to 4" tall Blooms appear in the late summer through mid-fall and resemble nettles.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Fragrant
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Wrinkled ovate opposite leaves up to 4" long. Purple or red leaves resemble the color of uncooked beef. Edible and aromatic.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    Yes
    Stem Cross Section:
    Square
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    Square with purple or green four grooves covered in short hairs, fragrant
  • Landscape:
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Heat
    Problems:
    Invasive Species
    Weedy