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Texas Invasive Species Institute

Texas Invasive Species Institute


Perilla frutescens

Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae

Perilla frutescens

Photographer: John D. Byrd Affiliation: Mississippi State University Source: Bugwood.org Copyright: CC BY 3.0 US


Beefsteak plants are small, freely branching annual herbs in the mint family (Lamiaceae) that reach a height between 18 and 30 inches. Small ovate leaves are generally purple or green and are arranged in an opposite formation along the four-sided stem. Small bell-shaped flowers are white and purple with a distinctive ring of fine hairs along the bottom. They may be arranged in a terminal cluster or within the leaf axils and appear between July and October. Stems and leaves have a very strong characteristic odor. It superficially resembles basil and coleus.

Ecological Threat

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 plants' 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.


It is extremely invasive by wind-borne seeds.


Introduced as an ornamental, herb and salad plant.

Native Origin


Current Location

U.S. Habitat: Prominent along roadsides, railroad right of- ways, streams, spring branches, pastures, fields, woodlands and gravel bars. It can grow in rich soils, alluvial soils or dry soils. It spreads to natural areas, especially disturbed areas.

U.S. Present: AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NE, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WA, WI, WV

For a county distribution map provided by EDDMapS click here


Manual- Pull seedlings and small or shallow-rooted plants when soil is moist. Dig out larger plants, including the root systems. To prevent spread of seeds, cut off spent flowers ("deadhead") or cut off seeds or fruits before they ripen. Bag, and burn or send to the landfill.

Chemical- It can be effectively controlled using any of several readily available general use herbicides such as Glyphosate. Follow label and state requirements.

USE PESTICIDES WISELY: Always read the entire pesticide label carefully, follow all mixing and application instructions and wear all recommended personal protective gear and clothing.


Contributions from Texas Invasives for this species page are greatly appreciated.

Aritomi, M., Kumori, T., & Kawasaki, T. 1985. Cyanogenic glycosides in leaves of Perilla frutescens var. acuta. Phytochemistry, 24(10), 2438-2439.

USDA Forest Service. 2005. Beefsteak Plant: Perilla frutescens (L.) Britt. Weed of the Week. WOW 01-23-05.

Williams, M. A. 2007. An ecological study of an Arkansas invasive mint, Perilla frutescens (Lamiaceae), with a review of phytochemical and medical applications. University of Arkansas.

Internet Sources




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