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A Native Photo: Huirem Bhabini
Common name: Perilla, Beefsteak plant • Adi: Namdung • Uttarakhand: भंगजीरा Bhangjeera, भंगीरा Bhangira • Manipuri: ꯊꯣꯢꯗꯤꯡ Thoiding • Mizo: Chhawhchhi • Nepali: सिलाम Silam • Tangkhul: Hanshi • Angami: Kenie
Botanical name: Perilla frutescens var. frutescens    Family: Lamiaceae (Mint family)
Synonyms: Perilla frutescens var. purpurascens, Perilla albiflora

Perilla is an erect annual herb with stems 0.3-2 m tall, densely hairy. Leaves are broadly ovate to round, 7-13 x 4.5-10 cm, green or purple, above hairy, below appressed hairy, margin coarsely sawtoothed. Flowers are borne in separated whorls in 1.5-15 cm long spikes, densely hairy; bracts about 4 × 4 mm, short tapering, red-brown glandular. Flower-stalks are about 1.5 mm, densely hairy. Calyx about 3 mm, erect, lower lip longer than upper lip; fruiting calyx up to 1.1 cm base hairy, glandular. Flowers are 3-4 mm, slightly finely velvet-hairy, tube 2-2.5 mm. Perilla is widely cultivated in China, NE India, Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Vietnam. Leaves are used for flavoring dishes in India and China. In Uttarakhand, Perilla seeds are roasted and ground with salt, chilis, and tomatoes to make a savoury dip/side dish or chutney. In Manipur the grounded roasted seeds are used in a salad called Singju. They are also pounded with ginger and other herbs, and made into balls, eaten as salad. Perilla is found in the Himalayas, from Kashmir to Bhutan, at altitudes of 600-2400 m.

Identification credit: Gurcharan Singh Photographed Manipur, Uttarakhand & Arunachal Pradesh.

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