Perilla

Korean perilla leaves prepared for kimchi
Image via Wikipedia

Botanical Name:Penserilla frutesc
Family :Lamiaceae/Mint
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales
Genus: Perilla

Other Names: Ao Shiso, Beefsteak plant, Ji Soo, Perilla, Purple Perilla, Shiso, Wild basil, Wild red basil, Chinese basil, Purple mint, Rattlesnake weed, Summer coleus
Perilla smells funny, which is no wonder since you will usually find it in cow pastures. Rub leaves on your skin and clothes on hikes to repel ticks. Also a good companion plant for tomatoes. Harvest before seeds form, very invasive if allowed to seed.

Habitat:It is native to E. Asia, it is a traditional crop of China, India, Japan, Korea, Thailand, and other Asian countries. Perilla was brought to the United States in the late 1800s by Asian immigrants.It has quickly naturalized and become a common weed of pastures and roadsides in the southeastern United States. Found growing in sunny open fields, roadsides, waste places and open woodlands.

Description:Penserilla frutesc is an annual / perennial herb. It is a very aromatic plant, with a strong minty smell. Growing up to 4 feet tall when in bloom, the stems are square, reddish-purple and branching. The leaves are large, up to 6 in. in diameter, petioled, opposite, ovate and serrate, edges ruffled or curly, dark green tinted red to purple (especially on the underside) and hairy. Sometimes the leaves are so large and red that they remind one of a slice of raw beef, hence the name beefsteak plant. The flower spikes are long, up to 10 in. and born in the leaf axils. Flowers are small about 1/4-inch long and tubular, pink to lavender and numerous. After blooming from July to October, they leave their calyx on the spike to cover the seed pod, shake the dry seed stalks and it rattles like a rattlesnake. That’s how the plant got one of its common names (rattlesnake weed). Perilla is often confused with purple Basil and used for the same purposes. Gather the edible tender leaves from the plant tops anytime. Gather entire plant in bloom and dry for later use.

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In mild climates the plant reseeds itself. The most common species is Perilla frutescens var. japonica or shiso which is mainly grown in India and East Asia. There are both green-leafed and purple-leafed varieties which are generally recognized as separate species by botanists. The leaves resemble stinging nettle leaves, being slightly rounder in shape. It is also widely known as the Beefsteak plant. In North America, it is increasingly commonly called by its Japanese name, shiso, in addition to being generally referred to as perilla. Its essential oils provide for a strong taste whose intensity might be compared to that of mint or fennel. It is considered rich in minerals and vitamins, has anti-inflammatory properties and is thought to help preserve and sterilize other foods. In Nepal and parts of India, it is called silam. Its seeds are ground with chili and tomatoes to make a savoury dip/side dish.

Cultivation:Cultivation is very easy. Perilla prefers light to medium moist well-drained and rich soil in full sun. Perilla is a very attractive plant for the garden and attracts butterflies. It’s deep purple stems and purple to red tinted leaves last all summer and fall.

Medicinal Properties and Uses: Perilla is edible and medicinal. The leaves have a very pleasant sweet taste and are used as a spice, cooked as potherbs or fried, and combined with fish, rice, vegetables and soups. It is also chopped and combined with gingerroot, then added to stir-fries, tempuras and salads in many Asian countries. The plant also supplies a nutritious cooking oil from the seed, as well as giving color and flavor to many pickled dishes. In the United States the essential oil of the plant is used as a food flavoring in candies and sauces. It is used as a flavoring in dental products and at one time, it was one of the main ingredients in sarsaparilla. The entire plant is very nutritious, packed with vitamins and minerals, and one of the aldehyde isomers found in Perilla is 2,000 times as sweet as sugar. There are many scientifically proven medicinal uses for Perilla. It has been used for centuries in Oriental medicine as an antiasthmatic, antibacterial, antidote, antimicrobial, antipyretic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitussive, aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic, emollient, expectorant, pectoral, restorative, stomachic and tonic. The plant constituents confirm these uses in alternative medicine and ongoing studies have revealed that this plant is useful in curing many cancers as well as various other diseases and disorders. Further research has isolated such constituents as apigenin, ascorbic-acid, beta-carotene, caffeic-acid, citral, dillapiol, elemicin, limonene, luteolin, myristicin, perillaldehyde, protocatechuic-acid, quercetin, rosmarinic-acid, and more, to numerous to mention. It is a pungent, aromatic, warming herb. An infusion of the plant is useful in the treatment of asthma, colds, cough and lung afflictions, influenza prevention, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, constipation, food poisoning and allergic reactions (especially from seafood), and to restore health and balance. The stems are a traditional Chinese remedy for morning sickness and restless fetus in pregnancy, though some say the herb should be avoided by pregnant women. Perilla seed oil has been used in paints, varnishes, linoleum, printing ink, lacquers, and for protective waterproof coatings on cloth. Volatile oils of the plant are also used in aroma therapy and for perfume. The seed heads can be collected and dried for use in arrangements, potpourris and wreaths. The crushed plant also makes an effective insecticide.

The essential oil extracted from the leaves of perilla by steam distillation consists of a variety of chemical compounds, which may vary depending on species. The most abundant, comprising about 50–60% of the oil, is perillaldehyde which is most responsible for the aroma and taste of perilla. Other terpenes such as limonene, caryophyllene, and farnesene are common as well.

Of the known chemotypes of perilla, PA (main component: perillaldehyd) is the only one used for culinary purposes. Other chemotypes are PK (perilla ketone), EK (elsholzia ketone), PL (perillene), PP (phenylpropanoids: myristicin, dillapiole, elemicin), C (citral) and a type rich in rosefuran.

Perilla ketone is toxic to some animals. When cattle and horses consume purple mint (of the PK chemotype) while grazing in fields in which it grows, the perilla ketone causes pulmonary edema leading to a condition sometimes called perilla mint toxicosis.

Perilla oil is obtained by pressing the seeds of perilla, which contain 35 to 45 percent oil. In parts of Asia, perilla oil is used as an edible oil that is valued more for its medicinal benefit than its flavor. Perilla oil is a very rich source of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid. As a drying oil similar to tung oil or linseed oil, perilla oil has been used for paints, varnishes, linoleum, printing ink, lacquers, and for protective waterproof coatings on cloth. Perilla oil can also be used for fuel.

The oil from the seeds of this plant, widely used in the manufacture of paint, varnish, and artificial leather and as a substitute for linseed oil.

The seed oil is used for cooking, and as an ink dryer. The seeds are eaten by people, they have a sweet, pungent taste. They are alse used as bird seed. The foliage is cooked as a potherb. A few cut leaves are sometimes used to color the rice pink.

The oxime of perillaldehyde (perillartin) is used as an artificial sweetener in Japan as it is about 2000 times sweeter than sucrose.

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Chemistry
The essential oil extracted from the leaves of perilla by steam distillation consists of a variety of chemical compounds, which may vary depending on species. The most abundant, comprising about 50–60% of the oil, is perillaldehyde which is most responsible for the aroma and taste of perilla. Other terpenes such as limonene, caryophyllene, and farnesene are common as well.

Of the known chemotypes of perilla, PA (main component: perillaldehyd) is the only one used for culinary purposes. Other chemotypes are PK (perilla ketone), EK (elsholzia ketone), PL (perillene), PP (phenylpropanoids: myristicin, dillapiole, elemicin), C (citral) and a type rich in rosefuran.

Perilla ketone is toxic to some animals. When cattle and horses consume purple mint (of the PK chemotype) while grazing in fields in which it grows, the perilla ketone causes pulmonary edema leading to a condition sometimes called perilla mint toxicosis.

Perilla oil is obtained by pressing the seeds of perilla, which contain 35 to 45 percent oil. In parts of Asia, perilla oil is used as an edible oil that is valued more for its medicinal benefit than its flavor. Perilla oil is a very rich source of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid. As a drying oil similar to tung oil or linseed oil, perilla oil has been used for paints, varnishes, linoleum, printing ink, lacquers, and for protective waterproof coatings on cloth. Perilla oil can also be used for fuel.

The oxime of perillaldehyde (perillartin) is used as an artificial sweetener in Japan as it is about 2000 times sweeter than sucrose.

China
Perilla is traditionally used in Chinese medicine and has been shown to stimulate interferon activity and thus, the body’s immune system.

Japan:
The Japanese name for perilla is shiso. The Japanese call the green type aojiso , aoba (“green leaf”), ?ba or aoshiso and often eat it with sashimi (sliced raw fish) or cut into thin strips in salads, spaghetti, and meat and fish dishes. It is also used as a flavorful herb in a variety of dishes, even as a pizza topping (initially it was used in place of basil). The purple type is called akajiso ( “red shiso”, akajiso?) and is used to make umeboshi (pickled ume) dyed red, or combined with ume paste in sushi to make umeshiso maki. An inflorescence of shiso is called hojiso (ear shiso). Its young leaves and flower buds are used for pickling in Japan and Taiwan

Vietnam
Vietnamese cuisine uses a variety similar to the Japanese hojiso but with greenish bronze on the top face and purple on the opposite face. The leaves are smaller and have a much stronger fragrance than hojiso. In Vietnamese, it is called tía tô, derived from the characters whose standard pronunciation in Vietnamese is tia tô. It is usually eaten as a garnish in rice vermicelli dishes called bún and a number of stews and simmered dishes.

Koerea:
The plant’s Korean name is deulkkae or t?lkkae ( which means ‘wild sesame’.). The same word is also used when referring to its seed, which has many uses in Korean cuisine, just as the leaves (kkaennip,) do. The literal translations of deulkkae (“wild sesame”) and kkaennip (“sesame leaf”) are in spite of perilla’s not being closely related to sesame, and Korean cookbooks translated to English sometimes use these translations. Cans of pickled kkaennip can be found in Korean shops all over the world, with some ground red pepper between every two leaves in the can. The leaves’ essential oils provide for their strong taste. Fresh leaves have an aroma reminiscent of apples and mint and are eaten in salad dishes. The flavor is distinct from Japanese perilla, and the leaf appearance is different as well – larger, rounder, flatter, with a less serrate edge and often, a violet coloring on the reverse side. Perilla oil (deulgireum,) is extracted from the seeds; the cake can be used as animal food. Perilla oil has a rich taste and scent slightly resembling dark sesame oil (chamgireum,). Perilla seed can be cooked with meals, roasted, crushed to intensify its taste and/or mixed with sesame and salt.

Folklore
In Asia, centuries ago, ceremonies were conducted before harvesting the plant, it was considered to be alive and was held as sacred, sent by God as food and medicine to treat all ailments of man. Disrespect for the plant meant death, anyone caught stepping on the plant would himself be trampled to death!

Recipe
“Medicinal” tea: To ¼ cup dry herb add 1 pint of boiling water, allow to steep 10 to 15 min. Drink throughout the day for colds, flu, sore throat, and congestion. Also can be boiled and the steam inhaled to clear the sinuses.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perilla
http://www.answers.com/topic/perilla
http://www2.pittstate.edu/herbarium/wildflowers/Perilla_frutescens_BeefsteakPlant.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perilla_frutescens

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