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Perilla

QuestionThis purple leaf plant has a strong scent kind of like basil. It puts out a flower stalk in the fall and spreads seeds. Hundreds of plants will grow the next summer.  They grow to a height up to two feet with a very strong root system.  They eventually produce masses of plants.  Originally, it was in a massed planting of mixed plants purchased from a nursery.  It's all over the back yard and now showing up in the front flower beds. Would this be a reasonable plant to naturalize around in a woodland setting or is it an invasive plant that needs to be eradicated? It particularly likes full sun, but seems to grow just about anywhere it can get water and light.

 

AnswerThe plant does look very much like purple basil, but it is actually perilla. Perilla frutescens is commonly called purple mint or beefsteak plant. It can be highly invasive, spreading more and more each year. It is in the mint family, so I would use caution about letting it naturalize.


 

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