You Don’t Want a Stake in This!

Contact: Marc Imlay, Conservation Biologist, The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission | (301) 442-5657 |

You Don’t Want a Stake in This!
Photo: Beefsteak plant foliage, Jil M. Swearingen, USDI National Park Service,

ANNAPOLIS, MD (June 2, 2011) – Perilla frutescens is commonly known as beefsteak plant. Beefsteak plant has become highly invasive in many habitats, displacing desirable native plants all over Maryland. Due to its increase in invasive qualities, the Maryland Invasive Species Council has chosen beefsteak plant to be the June Invader of the Month.

Sold as an ornamental plant, this member of the mint family is extremely invasive by wind-borne seeds. Recognize it by the odd odor, supposedly like raw beef, when you rub it. The flowers are white or purple and bloom from August through October. The leaves are oval shaped with toothed margins and opposite arrangement. When viewed from the top there are four leaves, two larger opposite leaves and two smaller opposite leaves.

As is the case with many invasive species, beefsteak plant was introduced intentionally with the intent of beautifying the landscape. Originally from the Himalayas to Eastern Asia, beefsteak plant is desirable to homeowners for its unique form and late blooming. Areas surrounding a beefsteak plant in a landscaped setting need to be watched closely. Beefsteak plant can easily escape and become established, creating even more competition for desirable plants in forest and open settings. Browsing by animals is low due to toxic characteristics, which give it a leg up when compared to most native plant species.

To prevent the spread of beefsteak plant, do not plant it! Plant alternatives, and eradicate beefsteak plants that you find. Alternatives for beefsteak plant as a ground cover include:

Evergreen: Golden ragwort (Senecio aureus) and green-and-gold (Chrysogonum virginianum) have showy yellow flowers in spring and grow in moist shade. Wild stonecrop (Sedum ternatum) has lacy white flowers; it grows in thin, rocky soil in light shade. Moss phlox (Phlox subulata), the familiar landscape plant, has a looser form in the wild, and usually has white flowers; it tolerates very poor soil but needs good drainage.

Semi-evergreen: Allegheny spurge (Pachysandra procumbens) is indigenous to the mountains but will grow here. It looks much like its Japanese cousin.

Deciduous: Wild ginger (Asarum canadense) has kidney-shaped leaves that seem to sparkle in spring. Not a culinary plant, its roots do have a gingery scent. It needs moist shade.

Eradication of beefsteak plant is achieved through the pulling of seedlings, and foliar application of glyphosate herbicide to stands which are too dense to pull. Because of late emergent plants it is advisable to remove the plants twice in the season. To prevent spread of seeds or fruits remove the plants before they ripen. Monitor each year for several years until eradicated.

You Don’t Want a Stake in This!

For more information, please visit:

Maryland Native Plant society

For more information about Invasive Species of Concern in Maryland, visit