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Red Shiso

Red shiso (Perilla frutescens var. crispa) is a cultigen of Perilla frutescens native to China and India, particularly in the mountainous regions of these two countries. Today, this perennial plant which can be cultivated as an annual is grown worldwide. The use of red shiso is common in East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines. 

This plant is known by different names – the Chinese call this plant zǐsū which means purple perilla, a reference to the color of the foliage. They also call it huíhuísū. Koreans also have two names for this plant – ggaetnip and soyeop. The Vietnamese call this plant tía tô. Its other names include perilla mint, Chinese basil, wild basil, wild coleus, summer coleus, purple mint, and rattlesnake weed. 

Ancient Chinese have cultivated shiso and it was mentioned in 500 AD writings, as a plant then known as su. It is around the eighth or ninth centuries that the plant was introduced in Japan, and it was not until 1855 that red shiso was introduced in England. It was brought to the United States in the 1860s. 

Red shiso can grow to as high as 39 inches tall, decorated with broad, ovate leaves with serrated margins. This is considered today as a weed and invasive species. 

Classification Information:
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales 
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Perilla
Species: P. frutescens
Trinomial Name: Perilla frutescens var. crispa

Red Shiso Trivia

  • Red shiso is known in the Ozarks as rattlesnake weed because if you step on dried red shiso, it makes a sound similar to the rattlesnake.
  • Check where your cattle is grazing because dried red shiso are considered toxic for cattle.
  • Red shiso are used for extracting oil used as a natural pigment.
  • The oil from red shiso is distilled and was used in candies and toothpaste. It has been since replaced with a synthetic variety.

Red Shiso Buying Guide

Red shiso are commercially-produced and sold in the market. You can buy potted plants, freshly-cut leaves, dried leaves, powdered leaves, even dried seed. In places where these items are not sold year-round, there is an option of ordering online although the choices are limited and the condition of freshly-cut leaves is not guaranteed, sometimes the promise of despite next-day delivery. 

Red Shiso Production & Farming in Texas

If you are growing red shiso, the first thing you should remember is that this is an invasive species. Do not plant this in your garden unless the lot is exclusive for red shiso only, because it can overrun the garden and threaten the other plants there.

As an alternative, try growing red shiso in a pot or container. This require moderate watering, and six hours of sunlight daily is enough.

Red shiso grow in moist, well-draining soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6. The plant cannot survive very cold temperatures and the ideal place to plant this is somewhere where the temperature is around 18°c.


Red shiso is generally pest-free which means the use of pesticides is not required. But it is also recommended to be vigilant in case some common pests appear on the plants. There are ways to control pests without using a pesticide. Against aphids, you can try introducing or attracting lady beetles or wasps which feed on aphids. You can also wash away aphids using a strong spray of water or mix insecticidal soap in it. This will also rid the plant of other pests such as spider mites and whitefly. You can also try using hot pepper wax. Against leafroller, use Spinosad, a natural substance made by a soil bacterium that can be toxic to insects. It is a mixture of two chemicals called spinosyn A and spinosyn D.


Major producers of red shiso are found in different parts of the world, like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Africa, Zaire, Ethiopia, and West Indies.

In the United States, red shiso is considered an invasive plant, particularly in the central and eastern US. In Texas, it is common to find red shiso that have extended outside of gardens and landscaping beds.


You can buy fresh red shiso leaves sold in a plastic clamshell container. The packaging is transparent, allowing you to see the condition of the leaves inside. 

Enjoying Red Shiso

The best way to enjoy the flavor of red shiso is cooking or eating young leaves. These usually taste sweet and emit a strong minty scent. 


Store frozen or dried red shiso. To freeze red shiso leaves, put these inside a freezer bag and put the freezer bag inside the freezer. Red shiso will also stay fresh for several days in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator. 

To dry red shiso leaves, spread these out on a drying screen and then place this in a warm, dry room to allow it to completely dry. Make sure to turn the leaves every two days to make sure these dry out evenly. You’ll know these are completely dry when they turn brittle. 


Red shiso is used for salad. In some Southeast Asian countries, it is also used to flavor rice. The flower of this plant is used for garnishing. 

In Japan, red shiso are commonly used for sushi, sashimi, and tempura. It is also a common practice in Japan to use red shiso to make a medicinal tea or a sweet drink, often enjoyed during the summer. Okinawa Island is an exotic cocktail that combines red shiso with Japanese melon liqueur, kumquats, pineapple, ginger, and gin.

Chinese cooks deep-fry red shiso leaves mixed with ginger and garlic, while Koreans use this to make kimchi, known as Kkaennip Kimchi. Red shiso is also used regularly as food in Laos, Vietnam, and India.


Red shiso is a low-calorie, low-carb, low-fat, and low-protein food. It is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate. It has no cholesterol and no saturated fat and is high in calcium. The leaves of red shiso have fiber, iron, potassium, vitamin A, and riboflavin. The seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids.

A 1991 study conducted by Japanese researcher Fumiko Matsumoto revealed that shiso leaves have a high level of carotene per 100 grams – 7,200 micrograms in purple varieties and 8,700 micrograms in green varieties.

  • Calcium: 23mg 
  • Iron: 9.4mg
  • Sodium: 15mg

Nutritional Benefits:

The leaves of the red shiso have various properties – as antiasthmatic, antibacterial, general antiseptic, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, emollient, expectorant, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antidepressant. Consuming red shiso helps alleviate cough, cold, and nausea. It also helps in maintaining a healthy cholesterol level.



  • Serving Size: 1 Serving
  • Calories: 0.1
  • Carbs: 0.1g 0%
  • Sugar: 0g 0%
  • Fiber: 0g 0%
  • Protein: 0g
  • Fat: 0g 0%
  • Saturated Fat: 0g 0%
  • Trans Fat 0g 0%
  • Cholesterol 0mg 0%
  • Sodium 0.1mg 0%
  • Vitamin C 0.1%
  • Vitamin A 0.2%
  • Calcium 0.1%
  • Iron 0.2%
  • Potassium 1.4mg 0%
  • Vitamin K 690mcg
  • Vitamin B2 0.34mg
  • Folic Acid 110mcg

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