One of my Coleus is a Perilla!

Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)June 21, 2012

I know it was labeled Coleus. Are there a bunch of Perilla's? What makes it different? It acts/grows just like Coleus, changing colors depending on if it's in mostly shade or sun, and I overwintered it just like Coleus - in glass bottles of water. How could I have never heard of this before? Where the heck have I been?

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Hi purpleinopp,

"I know it was labeled Coleus."

It probably is a Coleus.

"Are there a bunch of Perilla's?"

There are some, but there is much more diversity in Coleus. There are some Coleus that closely resemble some Perillas. I think you have a Coleus that resembles the picture of the Perilla that you linked to. That would be my guess.


    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 12:20PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Thanks for the response. I can google Coleus. It's the exact same plant. Magilla Perilla. What a cool name, too. This plant gets very dark maroon, almost brown, with little variegation in full sun. In mostly shade, it is has very pronounced sections of pink, white & green.

I've been experimenting with Coleus for decades and have been to Glasshouse Works a couple times and Bakers Acres countless times, and never heard of Perilla except the purple one that's kind of a weed. These pieces all came from propagating the same plant (I only bought one) last spring, some pics from this year, some from last year.

In the middle:

On the right:

At the top:

In the middle:

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 12:48PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Well, here's what I've found... if anyone's interersted...

Wiki on Perilla genus: "Perilla is a genus consisting of one major Asiatic crop species P. frutescens and a few recognized wild species in nature, belonging to the mint family, Lamiaceae." No leaves in focus, but a great pic of the flower.

Wiki on P. frutescens: Perilla frutescens (L.) Britt. (syn. Perilla nankinensis (Lour.) Decne.[1], etc.) is a cultivated plant of the mint family Lamiaceae. It is the species identification encompassing two distinct varieties[2] of traditional crop in East Asia:

) P. frutescens var. crispa, the aromatic leafy herb called by its Japanese name shiso, which in turn is a loan word from the Chinese: ç´«èÂÂ; pinyin: zi-su; Wade�"Giles: tsu-su[3]. The plant occurs in red (purple-leaved) or green-leaved forms. The now less fashionable English name "beefsteak plant" has been superseded by the Japanese-derived name shiso in the mass media and popular literature[4].

) P. frutescens var. frutescens or var. japonica, the oilseed crop, source of perilla oil and a common food ingredient in Korean cuisine, both as "wild sesame" in seed form, and as "sesame leaves". The provisional English name "wild sesame" is a literal translation of the Korean name Hangul: �"�깨; RR: deulggae; MR: tílkkae. In Japan this type of perilla is called egoma (ã¨ã´ã or èÂÂè¡麻?) (from èÂÂ, Japanese: e-; Chinese: èÂÂ; pinyin: ren; Wade�"Giles: jen[5]; Korean: ì im), and is not shiso.

The genus name perilla is also a frequently used as the common plant name[6][7], but that may be confusing since it is applicable to both varieties.

The pic there is not "Magilla Perilla in any light" but the form is identical.

USDA plants database pictures a plant that is definitely not the same.

The name Perilla frutescens often gets disparaged as a weed. I don't recall mine making any flowers all last year. shows a different plant from India.

Certainly not opening my wallet for anything or finding any reference to the pretty plant I have (and linked above) yet...

Searching specifically for "Magilla Perilla," I found an article from 2003 at Mississippi State U. Apparently this is a fairly new plant, for sale for less than a decade.

So, unless someone can offer some info I did not find, there seems to be 3 Perillas, in regard to leaf colors. Magilla, green, and what is called purple but always looks like really dark maroon to me, a wrong shade in my eyes to go with about everything else I like.

Glad I haven't been missing out on a bunch of other pretty leaves, as I had at first feared.

Coleus usually have their names on them, which is fun, but I rarely remember them. Once in a while you get one that just says "Coleus" like this one did. I wonder if the plant folks have just...

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 3:27PM
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Maybe it's a perilla, maybe it's not. I've grown thousands upon thousands of coleus in my lifetime and I can tell you the possibilities of combinations are practically endless. The purple center surrounded by green is a very common pattern in many coleus. They may be streaked, mosaic, well defined border......and various degrees in between. Perilla and coleus are related, enough so that they can be interbred. The fact that Magilla Perilla is sterile speaks to the probability that it's got an odd chromosome number and is likely a hybrid of a perilla with something related. IOW, the joy of Magilla is that it 'looks like a coleus'. Most perilla and perilla hybrids are far less festive.

Coleus do not always have their names on them, unless they are cutting grown and patented. Seed grown coleus may just as easily be labeled simply coleus since there are no requirements to protect patented propagation rights. Also coleus will change intensity depending on whether it's grown in a sun or shadier situation, just like perilla. However, since I have also grown perilla, I can tell you that they are more sun loving than coleus. A rose by any other name situation. It works for you and aside from sun tolerance, and ability to set viable seeds, there isn't much difference in the two anyway.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 10:22PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Thanks for the professional input, calliope. There is no doubt in my mind this is the same plant pictured in the link of my opening remarks. I know five pictures can't replace all of the time I've spent with this plant, so I don't blame anyone for not being able to see that in the pictures.

The lack of responses here and your comment, "Most perilla and perilla hybrids are far less festive" seem to support what I found. Not real worried I'm missing out on much, if anything. The lack of responses is what prompted me to spend some time researching this. I would like to hear more about the Perilla's you've grown and/or seen at your store. I couldn't find others any besides those I mentioned above.

(Checking to make sure, yes I did say Coleus usually have their names on them, not always have their names on them.) I used to go to Baker's Acres several times per year just to load up my car with the different Coleus they breed (not just the wizards and rainbows they have at most stores.)

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 9:34AM
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The seed coleus offered to growers became far less diversified when named, vegetatively propagated varieties started becoming popular. I used to get all sorts of oak and sabre leaved varieties in the old days, and that ceased. Much more profit in cutting strains because they are sold by the each. That's no conspiracy, but economics because there were less demand on the seed end.

"Most perilla and perilla hybrids are far less festive" seem to support what I found." No, not really because some in the business suspect that it's appearance is because it carries coleus genes and those genes would have to mean there are also coleus with those attributes. I would love to see it genotyped. We have changed so many views on what is what and to which line it springs because of that. But at the end of the day, one can simply buy Magilla or a coleus with the same markings. It's really not that big of an issue to split hairs over. There are more and more lines of perilla being bred and offered, so it's even hard to keep up with it. The kinds I grew were quite plain and fertile to the point of almost invasive. I also know that customers move labels around all the time, and greenhouse help sometimes don't pay attention, or even aren't literate (I've worked with one) and have to label by the pictures. I'm quite comfortable with you assuming you've got Magilla. It's possible, because there isn't any way to tell the difference by visual inspection that I am aware of.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 2:22PM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

I've grown both. The perilla I have had I got in a plant swap, and it was supposed to be a culinary herb. It was purple, though, and I planted it into pots on my patio with flowering annuals. I noticed that the flowering stalks, though similar to coleus, still had significant differences, and could be one way to tell it apart (longer, more upright, more space between florets). I also thought the leaves were thinner than coleus, and the veining pattern different.

I didn't go to the swap this year, and did not get new ones. The old ones seeded around pretty liberally, though, into the crack in the patio. I was thinking about soaking them and trying to get them out and transplant them.

I have never had a coleus self seed. The perilla seems to be all over the place (in the cracks, of course, not in the beds). If yours seeds readily, maybe that is a good way to tell, too.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 1:14PM
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You will find that the big coleus, and especially the sun tolerant ones like Kong will assume that tall, long between the internode look, just like perilla.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 11:40PM
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I have had a maroon Perilla for years. My brother gave it to me and I tried to act pleased, but I really found it quite an unexciting plant.I am not fond of the color. We didn't know what it was and then I found a picture in an herb catalog. It was also called Beefsteak Plant and they said it was used to tenderize meat.
The next spring it had disappeared and I wasn't too sad. Along about July I started to find little baby Perillas growing under other plants. I gathered them together and made a little Perilla Patch, not because I love this plant, but because it's hard for me to ignore a plant trying so hard to live. And so it's gone on, year after year. Somewhere along the line I started really taking care of them, pinching them back and they grow quite large. They aren't overly attractive, but the color blends quite nicely with what ever it's around.
I never find them where they were the year before. This year I found one next to an Iris and nestled next to other various plants. I thought I had them all and then today I found two more under an Artemisia.
We have a strange relationship - I don't love this plant, but I look for it every year and would be very disappointed if I lost it.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 5:22PM
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