Beefsteak plant (Perilla frutescens), also commonly known as perilla, is a member of the mint family. This annual plant is native to the Himalayas and Southeastern Asia and is cultivated for use in oriental cooking, salads, and soups. It commonly invades disturbed areas, such as roadsides, ditches, forest margins, and eroded hillsides where it outcompetes native plants. Beefsteak plant escaped from gardens and has been found in many parts of the eastern and central United States.
Beefsteak plant is an erect, annual herbaceous plant that grows 1 to 3 feet tall. Its leaves are wrinkled, serrate, opposite, and green, usually growing about 4 inches long. Flowering occurs during the late summer and fall. The white flowers are two-lipped and nettle-like that present in spike-like inflorescences blooming at the end of a square stalk. Some varieties of this plant have deep red leaves that resemble uncooked beef, hence the common name. Beefsteak plant has been observed within the Mountains, Piedmont, and Coastal Plain of North Carolina.
Fact Sheet: Beefsteak Plant