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a genus of annual herbaceous plants of the family Labiatae. Several species are found in East and Southwest Asia. There are two cultivated species, both of which are raised in the USSR. The species P. ocymoides, or P. frutescens, has a tap root. Its branching, heavily pubescent stem is 90–110 cm high. The leaves, which are long-petioled, broad-ovate, and serrate, are green or an anthocyanin color. Small white flowers are borne in axillary racemose inflorescences. The fruit is a nutlet; 1,000 nutlets weigh 2.6–3.9 g. As the plant matures, it gives off a lemony fragance.
Perilla, also known as beefsteak plants, are cultivated in China, Japan, Korea, and the USSR (Primor’e Krai) for the oil in their seeds. The oil content is 46–53 percent. The oil is used primarily in industry and as food. The oil cake is used as a concentrated animal feed.
The species P. nankinensis is about 50 cm high and has large-dentate, dark purple leaves. There are varieties with curly, fringed, or variegated leaves. The species is grown in China and Japan as an oil, essential-oil, or salad plant; in Western Europe, the USSR, and the United States it is raised as an ornamental.