Perilla is a genus consisting of one major Asiatic crop species Perilla frutescens and a few wild species in nature belonging to the mint family, Lamiaceae. The genus encompasses several distinct varieties of Asian herb, seed, and vegetable crop, including P. frutescens (deulkkae) and P. frutescens var. crispa (shiso). The genus name Perilla is also a frequently employed common name ("perilla"), applicable to all varieties. Perilla varieties are cross-fertile and intra-specific hybridization occurs naturally. Some varieties are considered invasive.
Taxa and synonymsThe classification of Perilla is confused, partly because botanists struggled with distinguishing the two distinct cultigens as different species or variations. Until a few decades ago, P. frutescens var. crispa was regarded as a species in its own right, distinct from P. frutescens, although it was well established that these types readily cross-pollinate. An early example of dividing the two cultigens into different species is found in Matsumura's 1884 nomenclature book, where the synonym P. arguta Benth. is applied to P. frutescens var. crispa, and the synonym P. ocymoides L. was applied to P. frutescens. The species name P. ocymoides or P. ocimoides has historically been used to denote P. frutescens var. crispa, especially by the Japanese,, therefore it should not be considered an interchangeable synonym for either cultigen. Recent genetic research confirms that the cultigens are of a common gene pool, corroborating the taxonomists' claim for consolidating the two crops into one species. Existing Perilla species:
- P. frutescens – also called Korean perilla or deulkkae; the leaves are called kkaennip
- P. frutescens var. crispa – also called shiso, tía tô, or Japanese Basil
- P. frutescens var. hirtella – also called lemon perilla
- P. cavaleriei H.Lév.
- P. heteromorpha Carrière
- P. setoyensis G.Honda
Formerly placed here
- P. elata = Elsholtzia blanda
- P. fruticosa = Elsholtzia fruticosa
- P. lanceolata = Mosla scabra
- P. leptostachya = Elsholtzia stachyodes ''
- P. marathrosma = Agastache foeniculum
- P. nankinensis = Plectranthus scutellarioides
- P. polystachya = Elsholtzia ciliata