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Perilla frutescens nankinensis - (Lour.)Britton.

Common Name Purple Shiso
Family Lamiaceae or Labiatae
USDA hardiness Coming soon
Known Hazards There have been cases of toxicity, including dermatitis, pulmonary oedema, respiratory distress and even death following ingestion by cattle and horses[274].
Habitats Banks of streams and wet places[74].
Range E. Asia - China.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Frost Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Perilla frutescens nankinensis Purple Shiso

Perilla frutescens nankinensis Purple Shiso


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Perilla frutescens nankinensis is a ANNUAL/PERENNIAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 8 and is frost tender. It is in flower from July to August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


P. arguta. Benth. P. crispa. P. nankinensis.

Plant Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Oil  Oil  Seed
Edible Uses: Colouring  Condiment  Oil  Oil

Edible young leaves and seedlings - raw or cooked[46, 116, 178, 183]. The flavour is strange to western palates at first, some people detecting cinnamon, others coriander or citrus[206]. Seedlings are added to salads, older leaves are used as a garnish or flavouring[206]. Older leaves are also salted and used as a condiment for tofu and as a garnish for tempura[183]. Leaves from purple cultivars are used to colour preserved fruits[238]. The leaves can also be dried for later use[206]. The leaves contain about 3.1% protein, 0.8% fat, 4.1% carbohydrate, 1.1% ash[179]. Immature flower clusters are used as a garnish for soups and chilled tofu[183]. Older flower clusters are fried and eaten[183]. The seeds are preserved in salt or are used as a spice in pickles, tempura and miso[183, 206]. They are one of the ingredients in 'Shichimi' or 'seven spice' mixture[206]. The seed can also be eaten cooked[105, 178]. Seeds from purple-leafed forms of the plant are preferred for culinary use[238]. The seed contains about 21.5% protein, 43.4% fat, 11.3% carbohydrate, 4.4% ash[179]. An edible drying oil is obtained from the seed[46, 171, 183]. It is rich in linolenic acid[57]. The plant yields an essential oil which is used as a food flavouring in candies and sauces[183]. An edible purple dye is obtained from the plant[2, 46, 61]. The part of the plant is not specified, but it is almost certainly the leaves[K].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antibacterial  Antipyretic  Antispasmodic  Aromatic  Carminative  Diaphoretic  Emollient  Expectorant  
Pectoral  Stomachic

The leaves, stems and seeds of shiso are often used in Oriental medicine. It is a pungent, aromatic, warming herb that is antibacterial, antidote, antipyretic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitussive, aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic, emollient, expectorant, pectoral, stomachic and tonic[116, 147, 174, 176, 218, 238]. The leaves are used in the treatment of colds, chest stuffiness, vomiting, abdominal pain etc[176]. The seed is antiasthmatic, antitussive, emollient and expectorant[176]. It is used internally in the treatment of asthma, colds and chills, nausea, abdominal pain, food poisoning and allergic reactions (especially from seafood), bronchitis and constipation[218, 238]. The stems are a traditional Chinese remedy for morning sickness[238].]. This herb should be avoided by pregnant women[222].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Essential  Oil  Oil

A drying oil obtained from the seed is used in making paints, varnishes, water proofing etc[46, 57, 105, 171, 238]. The plant yields 0.3 - 1.3% essential oil, which contains 20% citral[240]. It is used as a food flavouring and in dental products[238].

Special Uses

Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Prefers a light soil[1, 206]. Requires a rich well-drained moisture-retentive soil in full sun[200]. Plants require a well-drained soil but do not need particularly fertile soil[206]. Prefers an acid soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6[206]. The plant is not frost hardy and requires temperatures above 18°c if it is to grow well[206]. The plant requires short days in order to flower[206]. Shiso is often cultivated in the Orient as a food flavouring. This is a very ornamental form of the plant with particularly deep red leaves[74, 206]. Shiso is also cultivated for the oil obtained from its seed[50, 171]. It is sometimes used in sub-tropical bedding schemes in Britain[1].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Surface-sow or only lightly cover the seed in mid spring in a greenhouse. The seed germinates best at 20°c, though it also succeeds at slightly lower temperatures[206]. Germination is usually quick, prick out the seedlings into trays or individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer[200, K]. Give the plants some protection such as a cloche until they are growing away well. The seed has a short viability and should be used when less than a year old[206].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Native Plant Search

Search over 900 plants ideal for food forests and permaculture gardens. Filter to search native plants to your area. The plants selected are the plants in our book 'Plants For Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens, as well as plants chosen for our forthcoming related books for Tropical/Hot Wet Climates and Mediterranean/Hot Dry Climates. Native Plant Search

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Perilla frutescensShiso, Beefsteakplant, Spreading Beefsteak PlantAnnual/Perennial0.6 7-10 FLMNM432

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Readers comment

hargrave   Sun Mar 30 2008

If this is the way/ process or a product available to dissolve obstruction in carotid arteries so surgeons don't cut into me? Soy is mentioned. They are knocking at my door.

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