Shiso - Perilla frutescens


Perilla frutescens

Shiso helps prevent the cold/flu, promotes appetite/digestion and also helps with combating allergies.

  • Plant Family: Lamiaceae
  • Plant type: Annual
  • Other names: Beefsteak Plant
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: Yes
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used: Leaves
  • Side Effects: None
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About Shiso

Shiso is a very handsome plant that is frequently seen in Japanese, Korean, Thai, and Chinese cuisines. This Asian annual/perennial herb belongs to the genus Perilla in the mint family Lamiaceae. Its attractive foliage comes in purple, green colors, or ruffled form which makes it exquisitely unique.

The purple or more like the blood-red color of the leaves has earned shiso quite a laughable name, beefsteak plant. However, the green form is celebrated a bit more zealously because of its delectable flavor that is known to compliment various cuisines. The purple or blood-red shiso form is popular in making pickles where it is used to impart the violet hue. Other than that, the purple form also makes a beautiful garnish because of its color and flavor.

Apart from the culinary uses of shiso, it has many prominent medicinal benefits that nominate it as one of the most potent herbs in traditional Chinese medicine. The leaf extract of shiso declares many medicinal properties like anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumor, anticancer, anti-allergic, anorexigenic, and so forth. Moreover, shiso is brimmed with various nutrients, minerals, and vitamins like iron, calcium, and vitamin A, addressing it as a perfect herb to sit in your kitchen cupboard.


It would not harm to say that Shiso is an easy growing but somewhat demanding plant. It attempts to find full sun or light shade and compost-rich, well-drained soil with pH 5.5 to 6.5 for buoyant growth.

The good news that awaits the eager souls is that shiso is both indoor and outdoor-friendly. Shiso thrives in moist soil but it should be guarded properly as its quite prone fungal diseases that thrive in damp conditions. Shiso can be grown indoors upon the arrival of winters.

The seeds of shiso can be soaked in water for around 4 to 8 hours to accelerate the process of germination. The broadcasted seeds are covered with a minimal amount of soil or compost so that the light can reach them and encourage germination.

Shiso seeds germinate quickly and show up within 7 to 21 days. The seedling then grows further into a beautiful mature plant that is ready to bloom.

Shiso blooms in fall, poking out white lip-shaped flowers that cordially invite pollinating insects like a butterfly to lend helping hand pollination. After fertilization, the shiso fruit comes into the view with fine seeds that can be preserved for further propagation of the shiso plant.


Shiso leaves are ready to be harvested 8 weeks after sowing the seeds or when the plant has reached the height of 8 inches or more.

The leaves and flowers of the Shiso plant are harvested by snipping them off with scissors or pruners.
The seeds of shiso can be preserved when the flowers begin to dry up in the fall.

Shiso leaves and flowers are stored in the refrigerator before wrapping them in a damp towel paper and depositing the bundle in a perforated plastic bag. This way, shiso can last for 2 to 3 days.


Shiso is a highly ornamental plant that comes with flavors that perk up oriental dishes and medicinal properties that alleviate a vast variety of ailments. Shiso can be an ingredient of choice in many different preparations to allow its benefits to nullify your nuisances.

  • Tea - Shiso is soaked in hot boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. The plant material is strained and lemon juice is stirred in to spark the zesty flavor.
  • Tincture - Infuse freshly chopped shiso leaves in grain alcohol for 4 to 6 weeks. Strain the liquid and place it in a dark and dry place.
  • Decoction - Purple or red type shiso leaves are used to make a decoction.
  • Syrup - Purple or red type shiso leaves are simmered in sugar solution. The mixture is strained and cooled in the refrigerator to give the syrup a refreshing taste.
  • Infused oil - Green type Shiso leaves and spinach leaves are blanched and blended with sugar and salt. Canola oil is added and the mixture is blended again to make shiso oil.