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(not the same as dandelion-type plant also called Rattlesnake weed) Funny smelling plant usually found in cow pastures, up to 4 ft tall (1.3m). Rub leaves on skin and clothes to keep ticks away. Dark purple square stems. Large saw-tooth jagged-edged dark green or red hairy leaves tinged with purple underneath. Aromatic minty smell. Long flower spikes with lots of small pink/purple flowers. When seed pods dry, the stems rattle like rattlesnake tails. Entire plant is edible, but new young sprouts, leaves and tops are best. Leaves have very peasant sweet taste and are used in all kinds of dishes worldwide, popular Japanese salad green (Shiso). Seeds have very nutritious oil. Many use it as a sugar substitute. Antibacterial, antiseptic, antimicrobial, expectorant, helps stomach. Used in many cancer therapies, also for asthma, lung problems, colds, flu, cough, nausea, vomiting, food poisoning, allergic reactions, stomach pain. Used for its aromatic properties to make perfumes, aromatherapy, potpourri.
Edible Plant Guide © 2012 Markus Rothkranz
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a genus of annual herbaceous plants of the family Labiatae. Several species are found in East and Southwest Asia. There are two cultivated species, both of which are raised in the USSR. The species P. ocymoides, or P. frutescens, has a tap root. Its branching, heavily pubescent stem is 90–110 cm high. The leaves, which are long-petioled, broad-ovate, and serrate, are green or an anthocyanin color. Small white flowers are borne in axillary racemose inflorescences. The fruit is a nutlet; 1,000 nutlets weigh 2.6–3.9 g. As the plant matures, it gives off a lemony fragance.

Perilla, also known as beefsteak plants, are cultivated in China, Japan, Korea, and the USSR (Primor’e Krai) for the oil in their seeds. The oil content is 46–53 percent. The oil is used primarily in industry and as food. The oil cake is used as a concentrated animal feed.

The species P. nankinensis is about 50 cm high and has large-dentate, dark purple leaves. There are varieties with curly, fringed, or variegated leaves. The species is grown in China and Japan as an oil, essential-oil, or salad plant; in Western Europe, the USSR, and the United States it is raised as an ornamental.


See references under oil .
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.