Beefsteak Plant (Wild Basil; Rattlesnake Weed; Shiso)
A branching, herbaceous annual that can be green, deep purple or various shades in between. Purplish plants look something like garden coleus. Flowers small, white or light purple, in elongated, spikelike clusters to 6 inches long, arising from leaf axils, with each flower on a short stalk subtended by a tiny leaflike bract. The calyx has 5 pointed lobes; the corolla has 5 rounded lobes. Blooms August-October. Leaves opposite, on long stems, large, soft, ovate to oblong, coarsely toothed, the upper surface indented with veins, the lower surface with raised veins. Foliage green or shades of purplish brown, highly aromatic. Stems lightly hairy, 4-angled, often purplish even on green plants.
Similar species: The many types of garden coleus tend to have leaves with rounded, not sharp teeth, with usually green or yellow banding or other marks on the leaves. Its leaves and stems tend to be thicker, and the flowers are different, too. Coleus rarely escapes cultivation.