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Perilla frutescens


A rather prolific "weed"/wildflower that I see in many parks in the area. These were growing en masse near the banks of the C&O Canal near the C&O Canal Visitor's Center, and are in a stage of mostly blooming. The dried stems smell sweet when crushed and exhibit a very geometric arrangement of pairs up the stem.


Grassy areas of a park, also in the forested areas

1 Species ID Suggestions

Perilla frutescens Perilla frutescens page

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AshleyBradford 12 years ago

Haha, excellent - I used to have those, too, but my mom has them all - maybe I should get them from her! 8) I did notice in my Google wanderings on it a picture of leaves and a mention of use in Japanese cuisine that looked awfully familiar. I've gotten sushi on leaves that looked like those before.

ScottRasmussen 12 years ago

It's an extremely variable plant, with many differences in leaf color and especially how finely or deeply toothed the leaves are. I think there are even garden cultivars that are grown just for their foliage which can be deep red or purple. I first learned to I.D. it from the Golden Guide to Herbs and Spices way back when a Golden Guide was a kid's first introduction to nature guides.

AshleyBradford 12 years ago

Oh yes that's it!!! Thank you so much for solving this mystery - I've wondered what it is for years and haven't been able to find it in any of my plant books or on the web. I was very excited to get this ID just now! :)

ScottRasmussen 12 years ago

I believe that's Perilla. I used to see it occasionally springing up in abandoned lots in Boston. I've heard the leaves are used as food. It's a member of the mint family, but its odor isn't exactly minty, but quite pleasant. Too bad that it seems to be invasive in your area.

Spotted by

Travilah, Maryland, USA

Spotted on Sep 22, 2011
Submitted on Sep 26, 2011

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