Wild Red Basil - Chinese Basil - Purple Mint
Perilla frutescens - (Linnaeus) Britton
Lamiaceae (Mint) Family
Plant is an upright, freely branching, hairy annual. Preferred habitat is roadsides, woods and pastures. Distribution is throughout the Escambia region. It is an annual with a tap root; has square stems up to 3 feet in height. The purple and red leaf forms of Beefsteak Plant have been cultivated, and are sometimes called Wild Coleus. The fresh leaves can be used in salads, soups and as garnishes. Beefsteak Plant is an introduced annual species native to Asia where it is widely cultivated both as an ornamental and as a food and medicinal plant. In Alabama, it occurs throughout the state as a weed in gardens and flower beds, in pastures, disturbed woodlands, around old home sites, and along rivers and creeks.
The leaves are opposite on the stem; stalked, egg-shaped. Leaf tip is pointed and sides are less than equal. Margins are toothed and base is attached to steam between lobes or may be rounded. The foliage may be green, purple, or reddish. The surface of the leaves are wrinkled. The stems and leaves have a faint musty odor when crushed
Flowers are in spike-like racemesin the leaf axil; raceme or panicle. Calyx has two lips. Corolla is white to lavender with four stamens that extend beyond it. The two-lipped corolla is pale lavender to white, tubular, and barely exerted from the calyx. The calyx is pubescent with long straight hairs.
Fruit is an ovary with two or more seed chambers.