Bill Johnson

Beefsteak Plant

Perilla frutescens (L.) Britt.
Mint family (Lamiaceae)

Origin: Asia (China, India, Japan, Korea, Thailand, and other countries)

Also called perilla mint, beefsteak plant is a traditional Asian crop used in cooking and is often planted as an ornamental. It readily escapes cultivation and has become a problematic invasive plant in natural areas across the mid-Atlantic region and elsewhere.

Distribution and Habitat
Beefsteak plant is reported to be invasive in Washington, D.C., Illinois, Maryland Missouri Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. It is well established along riparian areas of streams and rivers, gravel bars, forest edges, roadsides, railroad right-of-ways, pastures, fields and other disturbed areas in soils that are rich, alluvial or dry.

Ecological Threat
Beefsteak plant has spread to natural areas, especially those experiencing some form of disturbance. Once established, it disrupts native ecosystems by pushing out native plants. It has toxic characteristics which may explain why very few herbivores feed on it. It is ordinarily avoided by cattle and has been implicated in cattle poisoning. Beefsteak plants are most toxic if cut and dried for hay late in the summer, during seed production.

Description and Biology

Chris Evans, River to River CWMA

Prevention and Control
Do not purchase or plant beefsteak plant. Control is possible with long-term monitoring (see Control Options).

Native Alternatives
Members of the mint family like bee balm (Monarda didyma) and mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) are a few good alternatives to this invasive plant.


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Last updated:11-Nov-2010