Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Beefsteak Plant
Perilla frutescens 'Atropurpurea'

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

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

9 members have or want this plant for trade.


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Flowers are fragrant
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
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
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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By Terry
Thumbnail #1 of Perilla frutescens by Terry

By Terry
Thumbnail #2 of Perilla frutescens by Terry

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Thumbnail #3 of Perilla frutescens by Terry

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Thumbnail #7 of Perilla frutescens by GardenGuyKin

There are a total of 8 photos.
Click here to view them all!


8 positives
4 neutrals
4 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative coriaceous On Apr 1, 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.

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.

Negative kydrummer On Mar 31, 2014, kydrummer from Silver Spring, MD wrote:

I have been spraying Roundup, mowing, doing whatever I can to get this out of the horse pastures. Left alone, it will completely take over, shading out the grass. Luckily the horses won't eat it. I will not buy anything from any nursery that sells it.
Correction: I use a pasture safe herbicide with no grazing restrictions.

Negative mcig123 On Mar 31, 2014, mcig123 from Woodstock, MD wrote:

I live in the Baltimore Maryland metro area and wanted to let anyone living in Maryland know that this plant is on the Invasive Plant list put out by the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Matter of fact, it is listed as very bad because once it is established it disrupts native ecosystems by pushing out native plants. This can be very harmful especially to animals which forage on the native plants as it eliminates their food sources.

If you already have this plant growing in your yard or flower beds please consider eradicating it and planting a substitute such as Bee Balm or Mountain mint.

Positive barbiefish On Jul 18, 2011, barbiefish from Petersburg, VA wrote:

wendymadre, thought I'd add this since I too live in Petersburg, VA -- we planted one perilla plant about 10 years ago and it has spread to and regularly reseeds in many parts of our yard (over an acre). It's also moved, by itself, down the street. Perilla grows equally well in full shade and all-day sun. I love it so it's a positive, but it is VERY invasive as you will no doubt find as it spreads out each year . . . .

Positive wendymadre On May 3, 2010, wendymadre from Petersburg, VA wrote:

This plant grows vigorously and attractively in my Zone 7a garden, in Petersburg Virginia. I was given a six pack last May by a friend, and I let the three plants that survived my laxadaisical treatment, and that flourished through to the autumn, continue to stand over the winter: the dried forms looked ornamental. This spring I have hundreds of tiny little perillas coming up in that particular area (nowhere else in the garden, so they apparently don't travel far). They resemble tiny purple basil. I am going to transfer some of them to several other areas of the garden that are very, very green, and can benefit from the purplish leaves. I'll dig some others up to give away or trade. If its fertility becomes a problem, I'll update my note.

Positive stormyla On Nov 24, 2009, stormyla from Norristown, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

This plant appears somewhere in my garden most years. I do not let it go to seed as it can be quite aggressive. Our state asks people not to grow it.

Negative thizzwald On Oct 8, 2009, thizzwald from Redmond, WA wrote:

!!!WARNING!!! This Plant is Extremely Toxic to rabbits or other small rodent/pets I fed a small amount to my rabbits and within hours they were both dead!!!!

Neutral Stargell On Apr 28, 2009, Stargell from Pittsburgh, PA wrote:

I have a plant called Cryptotaenia japonica atropurpurea that looks very similar. Common name is japanese parsley I believe. It seems to be a perennial (in Pittsburgh PA) and is an aggressive spreader. It's supposed to be edible. Is it the same plant?

Positive dplooster On Apr 27, 2009, dplooster from Leavenworth, KS wrote:

This lovely little plant came up on its own in a shade garden beneath our front maple and quickly filled in a spot that had previously stubbornly remained bare. Seems very happy in the shade, believe it's probably a bit more contained there than in full sun. Prolific, but easily managed.

Neutral KyWoods On Jun 23, 2007, KyWoods from Melbourne, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:

Extremely invasive here, but so pretty! I'd be happy if I could remove them from everywhere they shouldn't be, and just save seeds to sow in one place. There are so many, though, it'd be an overwhelming task. Don't let them reseed freely!

Positive cbarthell2 On Apr 30, 2007, cbarthell2 from Austin, TX wrote:

My sister gave me a pot of this a few years ago and since then I've always had a new crop because it self seeds. Summers here are extremely hot and it does well even in full sun, although it would probably be a little happier with afternoon part sun rather than full.

Positive crimsontsavo On Jul 4, 2004, crimsontsavo from Crossville, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

Baa I'D this plant for me when my dog ate several of the leaves. Was very worried about him getting ill til I read comments about people eating it's leaves?

Overall we have had this plant for many years and love it. You don't have a garden unless you have Perilla. Lovely plant that adds not only color but a pungent scent to the garden when brushed or during a very hot day.Looks as though you could use it to dye fabrics purple. I rubbed some cloth with it and it is a nice shade of pruple.
Who knows what all you can use Perilla for. :-)

Positive kmcdole On Aug 7, 2003, kmcdole from Fremont, CA wrote:

My wife and I have been growing and eating the green beefsteak plant for years, the leaves are the Japanese equivilent to basil. I like it very much, and have used it in sandwiches in place of lettuce. we grew the red leaved beefsteak one year, had very little flavor, just contributed a nice color to dishes. If you have eaten sushi, you most likely have tasted it.

Positive nipajo On Jul 7, 2003, nipajo from Dallas, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

They are invasive, but they fill up a garden nicely. when you have a bare spot, just add one and next year you will have twenty. they are like coleus in that they bloom like the coleus.

Neutral maguire5700 On May 31, 2003, maguire5700 from Ronkonkoma, NY wrote:

This plant looks beautiful in the garden and grows well in sun or shade. However, it self seeds and every years multiplies like crazy. I now have to weed them out by the hundreds. No exaggeration.

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

Although perilla has been used as a food crop, it is currently regarded as unsafe.


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

Tuskegee, Alabama
Union Grove, Alabama
Clovis, California
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Fort Pierce, Florida
Fountain, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Tarpon Springs, Florida
Fairburn, Georgia
Lilburn, Georgia
Barrington, Illinois
Sidney, Illinois
Derby, Kansas
Leavenworth, Kansas
Melbourne, Kentucky
Zachary, Louisiana
Silver Spring, Maryland
Upper Marlboro, Maryland
Waynesboro, Mississippi
Lanoka Harbor, New Jersey
Ronkonkoma, New York
Cincinnati, Ohio
Indiana, Pennsylvania
Norristown, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Austin, Texas
Cedar Park, Texas
Dallas, Texas
Denton, Texas
Desoto, Texas
Petersburg, Virginia

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