Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Beefsteak Plant
Perilla frutescens

Family: Lamiaceae (lay-mee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Perilla (per-IL-uh) (Info)
Species: frutescens (froo-TESS-enz) (Info)

3 vendors have this plant for sale.

26 members have or want this plant for trade.


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)
15-18 in. (38-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Summer/Early Fall

Grown for foliage

Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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By Toxicodendron
Thumbnail #1 of Perilla frutescens by Toxicodendron

By Toxicodendron
Thumbnail #2 of Perilla frutescens by Toxicodendron

By JJsgarden
Thumbnail #3 of Perilla frutescens by JJsgarden

By ladyannne
Thumbnail #4 of Perilla frutescens by ladyannne

By mgarr
Thumbnail #5 of Perilla frutescens by mgarr

By jamlover
Thumbnail #6 of Perilla frutescens by jamlover

By creekwalker
Thumbnail #7 of Perilla frutescens by creekwalker

There are a total of 14 photos.
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12 positives
6 neutrals
7 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative OldChurchEggery On Oct 15, 2014, OldChurchEggery from Mechanicsville, VA wrote:

Perilla mint is a horribly invasive plant in my part of Virginia. Some people might find the plant "aromatic" but I think that's an awfully generous way of saying the plant reeks. Even after it has dried up for the season, walking through a patch of it stirs up the overpowering peppery-basil smell. We have livestock at our place and this plant is toxic to them. It does pull out easily but unfortunately, the bees love and pollinate it so much that anything you miss becomes a prolific seeder.

Neutral edenmb On Oct 2, 2014, edenmb from Huntington Station, NY (Zone 7b) wrote:

This came with some monarda from a friends garden. The bee balm never returned but this has filled a space in a shady garden. Zero maintenance. Yes, it spreads but easily pulls out. This year I let it bloom to see if there is anything I like about it, other than ease of care - not really is my conclusion.

Neutral Shirrush On Jul 14, 2014, Shirrush from Ramat Gan
Israel wrote:

We have the green variety growing profusely just about everywhere we threw seeds in the community garden. It is being harvested and consumed, and most members have at least tried it. I'm waiting for culinary R&D reports from them, but I am not too enthusiastic about Green Shiso's overly dominant taste.
The purple variety, or Beefsteak Plant, is altogether a different story. I've tried to germinate seeds dozens of time, from at least 5 different accessions obtained through international seed exchanges. Only one of these deigned to give me a couple of sprouts, of which only one survived and is developing quite nicely. Is it self-fertile, or should I keep sending away valuable and validated seeds in the hope that one day I'll get it to germinate and produce seeds locally?

Positive dojustdat On Jun 21, 2014, dojustdat from Baltimore, MD wrote:

This plant is only invasive if it's left to grow unattended. It's actually an easy plant to keep in control. As KittyWittyKat said "Simply pull out the whole plant before it seeds, and its gone... it is an annual."

As a true gardener you are responsible to keep your garden in order.

Negative coriaceous On Mar 11, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

I used to be partial to the purple-leaf strain, but after growing it once in pots I found it turned into a persistent annual weed. After more than a decade, I'm still weeding it out of the beds. It's very aggressive and outcompetes many perennials, and here the seeds in the soil seedbank are very long-lived. I wish that all it took to get rid of it were to pull up the seedlings for a season before they go to seed.

I'm not immortal, and I have no doubt that its seeds will outlive me---and I'll have no control over how this land is cared for after I die.

A pretty plant, but there are far too many other pretty plants that are less work. I'll never plant this again deliberately in any garden.

Coleus makes an excellent substitute, unless you want to eat it.

This species is highly toxic to many animals, including horses, cattle, goats, rats, mice, and hamsters. It is responsible for fatal livestock poisonings when it invades pasturage.

This plant's invasive behavior has alarmed many organizations concerned with preserving natural areas, including the US National Park Service and the US Forest Service. It has been reported as invasive of natural habitat in 8 states.

Positive goldandsylvan On Mar 11, 2014, goldandsylvan from Ukiah, CA wrote:

I grew perilla, or shiso, its Japanese name, from seed a few years ago and liked it very much. In California the plant does not spread at all. In fact, I haven't been able to get the seeds to germinate again. Trying again this year. Apparently the seeds are very short-lived. Johnny's says on their seed packet to freeze the seed until ready to plant, then refrigerate for one day. I don't know of any other seeds this fragile.
As for the flavor, it is addictive! When the local sushi place found out I had shiso growing, they offered to buy its leaves from me. It is essential in authentic Japanese cuisine. It is also very good chopped in salad dressing, with vinegar and oil or any other favorite dressing. The Japanese wrap it whole in sushi.

Negative atcps On Sep 8, 2013, atcps from WOODLAWN, TN wrote:

Perilla is a plant that should never be grown because there are too many suitable replacements that don't disrupt and disturb native flora and fauna. This plant is all over in natural areas on my Tennessee property where it crowds out native species. Additionally, I never ever see insects or anything eat it or get any benefit from it. I am trying my best to eradicate it and if any of my friends ever offered it to me they would soon be ex-friends.

Positive KittyWittyKat On Sep 16, 2011, KittyWittyKat from Saint Paul, MN (Zone 4b) wrote:

Simply pull out the whole plant before it seeds, and its gone... it is an annual.

Neutral vasue On Jan 31, 2011, vasue from Charlottesville, VA wrote:

Recently identified the purple-tinted "mystery mint" that's grown here for years as Perilla. Love this plant (as do hummingbirds, butterflies, small bees & tiny wasps when it blooms) & the neutral rating only reflects its prolific self-sowing. Be aware that bloom stallks grow from every stem node & hundreds of tiny blooms on each plant produce thousands of seeds, but unwanteds are easilly pulled at any stage. Although this is a windy country bluff, notice few sprout away from the beds where they are welcome in moderation. Pest insects, deer & critters leave them alone & they protect roses & other susceptible ornamentals in this organic no-spray garden. Ones in shade grow 3' but those in fertile watered soil grow more than 5' high & 2' wide if uncrowded. Happy & majestic plants!

Negative kydrummer On Jan 6, 2011, kydrummer from Silver Spring, MD wrote:

Perilla is extremely invasive in central Maryland. I have been mowing it out of the back pastures for several years before it seeds and it still comes back. No hope of getting it out of the woods. Very toxic to horses if harvested into hay crop. Completely shades out grasses.

Positive natas On Sep 9, 2009, natas from North East, MD (Zone 6a) wrote:

For those of you who don't know what to do with Beefsteak/perilla leaves, they are a suitable replacement for basil in most recipes, including pesto and pizza.

Positive outdoorlover On May 29, 2009, outdoorlover from Enid, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

This plant grows happily in our region in full shade. It does re-seed itself vigorously, but the babies are very easy to pull up and pass to friends. It adds beautiful color to shady places, and the bugs in our region do not like it either.

Positive arthurb3 On Dec 15, 2008, arthurb3 from Raleigh, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

These make a nice hedge and if you cut the flowers off or cut them down before the seeds ripen it will help to prevent them from comming up everywere. Then the plants are very useful in the compost pile or to use a green manure to turn in to the garden if you practice green manure rotation. The fiberous roots really help airate the soil.

Negative claypa On Oct 10, 2008, claypa from West Pottsgrove, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

This weed replaces our native plants in woodlands here; listed as invasive in Pennsylvania. The following is quoted from the US National Forest service:

Ecological Impacts: Often planted as showy ornamentals, beefsteak
plants may readily escape cultivation, spreading to disturbed areas
where they disrupt native ecosystems. The species has toxic
characteristics and very few predators. It is ordinarily avoided by cattle and has been implicated in cattle
poisoning. Plants are most toxic if cut and dried for hay late in the summer, during seed production. One
reason for beefsteak plantsí survival in pastures is that cattle avoid it. Sold as a salad plant for its dark purple
foliage, this member of the mint family is extremely invasive by wind-borne seeds.

Positive creekwalker On Sep 3, 2008, creekwalker from Benton County, MO (Zone 5a) wrote:

I LOVE this plant! It is not native to the US but was brought here by Asian Immigrants in the late 1800's. I think it smells wonderful. It's edible and medicinal. It has been used for centuries in Oriental medicine as an antiasthmatic, antibacterial, antidote, antimicrobial, antipyretic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitussive, aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic, emollient, expectorant, pectoral, restorative, stomachic and tonic. The plant constituents confirm these uses in alternative medicine and ongoing studies have revealed that this plant is useful in curing many cancers as well as various other diseases and disorders.

I have never seen it be invasive to the point of taking anything over, seems to co-exist with other native flora here. I am so glad I have it growing here. :-)

Negative t3208 On Aug 16, 2008, t3208 from Edison, NJ (Zone 6b) wrote:

This plant is extremely invasive. Earlier this summer I completely cleared a bed of it and in a matter of 3 weeks it looked as if nothing had been done. This plant is right up there with mint in places where it isn't native. True the foliage is nice but I would never recommend this plant to anyone.

Positive Breezymeadow On Sep 8, 2005, Breezymeadow from Culpeper, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

This plant, in both green & red variations, is naturalized here in Culpeper, VA, & I have several plants coming up in partial to full shade uncultivated areas of my property, some of which I'm planning on potting up.

While I haven't cooked with it yet, I do find it pleasant to nibble on when I'm working outdoors, & do plan to begin using it in both Korean & Japanese dishes. The taste, to me, is a mild mint/licorice.

Negative pgayle On Sep 8, 2005, pgayle from Mannford, OK wrote:

It is pretty, easy to grow, and reseeds freely. However it is a non-native invasive species.

Positive IO1 On Jul 2, 2005, IO1 from Waaaay Down South, GA wrote:

This is a harty plant which requires little care and makes a beautiful container plant. It grows well in sunny conditions without requiring an excessive amount of water. It is not bothered by any sort of insects that I've noticed. Although mine has not bloomed, it's still mid summer, so it's a bit early yet.

Neutral Windy On Jan 23, 2005, Windy from Belleville , IL (Zone 6b) wrote:

The seed requires light to germinate. Surface sow and keep moist until it germinates.
I cut the stems with seed pods that have dried and carefully shake them into a bowl to collect the many seeds.
You can also snip the seed froming pods before they set seed and dispose of them to prevent over seeding the next season.
Does not seem to be bothered by Japanese Beetles.

Positive Fleurs On Nov 26, 2003, Fleurs from Columbia, SC wrote:

Easily grown from seed, Perilla frutescens 'Atropurpurea' was like a coleus plant but a coleus which thrived in full sun, heat and humidity! The deep purple-bronze leaves kept their lustre all summer long. Once established, the Perilla needed only occasional pinching to keep it full and bushy. Water needs were average, and remarkably, insects ignored the plant.

Positive Toxicodendron On Sep 19, 2003, Toxicodendron from Piedmont, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:

This plant appears to be native to our area. It will come up by the hundreds but is very easily pulled out, so I don't consider it a weed. It is very pretty with pink flowers growing in it (such as Echinacea purpurea), makes a good cut flower vase filler, roots in water, likes sun or shade, can be pinched like coleus for fullness. A friend of mine said it is one of those plants that "could grow between two cigarette butts in the crack of a NYC sidewalk". The plants range from very tiny to three feet tall and wide, depending on light, moisture, and fertility of the soil.

Positive Ladyfern On Aug 8, 2003, Ladyfern from Jeffersonville, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:

I love the accent the dark, ruffly foliage provides in the garden. It gets 3' tall for me in some places. Tolerates drought, clay soil, and shade. I've never noticed bug damage to the foliage. Once it starts bolting in the fall, though, it loses a lot of its attractiveness. And once the plants begin to set seed, I definitely pull them out since they self seed PROLIFICALLY! But this way, the self-seeding they do is manageable.

Neutral lupinelover On Jan 27, 2003, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

Although this has been used as a food plant, it is currently regarded as unsafe to eat in quantity. It is a beautiful accent in the flower bed, though, and its leaves make a great addition to bouquets.

Neutral JJsgarden On Mar 20, 2001, JJsgarden from Northern Piedmont, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

Perilla is a member of the mint family. It has square stems,
deep reddish-purple leaves with a bronze metallic sheen.

The plant grows 18-36" tall and has pale lavender, pink,
or white flowers which grow in 3-6" long spikes. The flowers
are rather insignificant when compared to the beauty of
the foliage. It is fragrant when bruised or crushed.

P. frutescens 'Crispa' has bronze or purple leaves with highly
wrinkled margins.

P. frutescens 'Atropurpurea' has dark purple leaves.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Cullman, Alabama
Florence, Alabama
Smiths, Alabama
Union Grove, Alabama
Morrilton, Arkansas
Pangburn, Arkansas
Carlsbad, California
Hayward, California
Merced, California
Ukiah, California
Fountain, Florida
Milton, Florida
Barnesville, Georgia
Dacula, Georgia
Jonesboro, Georgia
Monroe, Georgia
Valdosta, Georgia
Barrington, Illinois
Jeffersonville, Indiana
Patriot, Indiana
Solsberry, Indiana
Delhi, Iowa
Des Moines, Iowa
Wichita, Kansas
Hi Hat, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Mc Dowell, Kentucky
Melbourne, Kentucky
Violet, Louisiana
Churchville, Maryland
Millersville, Maryland
Rosedale, Maryland
Lakeville, Massachusetts
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Detroit, Michigan
Rice, Minnesota
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Mathiston, Mississippi
Raymond, Mississippi
Waynesboro, Mississippi
Cole Camp, Missouri
Piedmont, Missouri
Rolla, Missouri
Lincoln, Nebraska
Edison, New Jersey
Mount Laurel, New Jersey
Los Alamos, New Mexico
Huntington Station, New York
Carthage, North Carolina
Fuquay Varina, North Carolina
Mooresville, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina
Dundee, Ohio
Glouster, Ohio
Springboro, Ohio
Enid, Oklahoma
Hulbert, Oklahoma
Jay, Oklahoma
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Columbia, South Carolina
Greer, South Carolina
North Augusta, South Carolina
Woodlawn, Tennessee
Austin, Texas
Belton, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas (2 reports)
Houston, Texas
Jacksonville, Texas
La Coste, Texas
Temple, Texas
Charlottesville, Virginia
Mechanicsville, Virginia

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