Perilla (aka Japanese Basil, Beefsteak Plant, Shiso)

lathechuck's picture

I found an expected resident growing vigorously next to my zuccini plants, and eventually tracked it down as Perilla, also known as Beefsteak Plant (I have no idea why), Japanese Basil (which is plausible), and Shiso. It's native to Asia, used in cooking and herbal medicine, and oil can be pressed from the seeds "for use in paint, dyes, and inks". The leaves, when crushed, smell something like sesame oil (in my opinion).

Does anyone have experience with this plant to share?

ClareBroommaker's picture

I used to see perilla growing in city alleys where no one bothered to weed or mow. It is a pretty plant, isn't it? I recently realized I have not seen it any more in years. Maybe there is no one intentionally growing it in gardens around here any more. It's another one of those respectably front yard-able food plants in my opinion. You know-- a plant you can grow right out where uptight neighbors won't feel like "yuck, food garden in the front!"

My husband bought a bottle of perilla oil and used it just as you hinted at, in place of sesame seed oil, so mostly on noodles.

My garden buddy really likes the taste of the leaves, but I find it a bit to skunky. It is a pretty plant though and once it gets going it can fill a space.