Red Shiso (Perilla frutescens) Plant Growing

Coleus-like plant with broad, opposite, serrated leaves, reddish-purple through copper tones to light green in colorView Full Resolution

This photo shows a red shiso (Perilla frutescens) plant, also known as "Beefsteak Plant", which I found growing in a pot on the street in center city Philadelphia. This plant, which is used both as a vegetable, spice (its seeds), and an herbal tea, bears a superficial resemblance to Coleus, a tropical ornamental plant, but it is quite different.

Unlike Coleus, shiso or perilla is quite cold-hardy and can spread aggressively in temperate climates. See this photo of it growing invasively in the John Heinz National Wlidlife refuge. It is possible that that invasive population originated wholly or partly from ornamental plant usage like the one pictured here.

This image is featured in our article on Shiso Sencha.

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Alex Zorach

RateTea Editor

Joined Sep. 1st, 2009.

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