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Toxic parts

There have been cases of toxicity, including dermatitis, pulmonary oedema, respiratory distress and even death following ingestion by cattle and horses[1].

Edible uses


Edible young leaves and seedlings - raw or cooked[2][3][4][5]. The flavour is strange to western palates at first, some people detecting cinnamon, others coriander or citrus[6]. Seedlings are added to salads, older leaves are used as a garnish or flavouring[6]. Older leaves are also salted and used as a condiment for tofu and as a garnish for tempura[5]. Leaves from purple cultivars are used to colour preserved fruits[7]. The leaves can also be dried for later use[6]. The leaves contain about 3.1% protein, 0.8% fat, 4.1% carbohydrate, 1.1% ash[8].

Immature flower clusters are used as a garnish for soups and chilled tofu[5]. Older flower clusters are fried and eaten[5]. The seeds are preserved in salt or are used as a spice in pickles, tempura and miso[5][6]. They are one of the ingredients in 'Shichimi' or 'seven spice' mixture[6]. The seed can also be eaten cooked[9][4]. Seeds from purple-leafed forms of the plant are preferred for culinary use[7]. The seed contains about 21.5% protein, 43.4% fat, 11.3% carbohydrate, 4.4% ash[8]. An edible drying oil is obtained from the seed[2][10][5]. It is rich in linolenic acid[11]. The plant yields an essential oil which is used as a food flavouring in candies and sauces[5].

An edible purple dye is obtained from the plant[12][2][13]. The part of the plant is not specified, but it is almost certainly the leaves[K].

Unknown part


Material uses

A drying oil obtained from the seed is used in making paints, varnishes, water proofing etc[2][11][9][10][7]. The plant yields 0.3 - 1.3% essential oil, which contains 20% citral[14]. It is used as a food flavouring and in dental products[7].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

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[3][15][16][17][18][7].

The leaves are used in the treatment of colds, chest stuffiness, vomiting, abdominal pain etc[17]. The seed is antiasthmatic, antitussive, emollient and expectorant[17]. 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[18][7]. The stems are a traditional Chinese remedy for morning sickness[7].].

This herb should be avoided by pregnant women[19].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


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[6]. 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[6].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Perilla frutescens nankinensis. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Prefers a light soil[20][6]. Requires a rich well-drained moisture-retentive soil in full sun[21]. Plants require a well-drained soil but do not need particularly fertile soil[6]. Prefers an acid soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6[6].

The plant is not frost hardy and requires temperatures above 18°c if it is to grow well[6]. The plant requires short days in order to flower[6].

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[22][6]. Shiso is also cultivated for the oil obtained from its seed[23][10]. It is sometimes used in sub-tropical bedding schemes in Britain[20].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Perilla frutescens nankinensis. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Perilla frutescens nankinensis.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Perilla frutescens nankinensis
Imported References
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
no shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type


    1. ? Diggs, Jnr. G.M.; Lipscomb. B. L. & O'Kennon. R. J [Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas] Botanical Research Institute, Texas. (1999-00-00)
    2. ? Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
    3. ? Brooklyn Botanic Garden Oriental Herbs and Vegetables, Vol 39 No. 2. Brooklyn Botanic Garden (1986-00-00)
    4. ? Stuart. Rev. G. A. Chinese Materia Medica. Taipei. Southern Materials Centre ()
    5. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    6. ? Larkcom J. Oriental Vegetables John Murray ISBN 0-7195-4781-4 (1991-00-00)
    7. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
    8. ? Reid. B. E. Famine Foods of the Chiu-Huang Pen-ts'ao. Taipei. Southern Materials Centre (1977-00-00)
    9. ? Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World. Keigaku Publishing (1976-00-00)
    10. ? Hill. A. F. Economic Botany. The Maple Press (1952-00-00)
    11. ? Schery. R. W. Plants for Man. ()
    12. ? 12.012.1 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
    13. ? 13.013.1 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
    14. ? 14.014.1 Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement). Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi. (1986-00-00)
    15. ? 15.015.1 ? A Barefoot Doctors Manual. Running Press ISBN 0-914294-92-X ()
    16. ? 16.016.1 Kariyone. T. Atlas of Medicinal Plants. ()
    17. ? Yeung. Him-Che. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas. Institute of Chinese Medicine, Los Angeles (1985-00-00)
    18. ? Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (1985-00-00)
    19. ? 19.019.1 Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America. Houghton Mifflin Co. ISBN 0395467225 (1990-00-00)
    20. ? 20.020.1 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    21. ? 21.021.1 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    22. ? 22.022.1 Komarov. V. L. Flora of the USSR. Israel Program for Scientific Translation (1968-00-00)
    23. ? ? Flora Europaea Cambridge University Press (1964-00-00)