(Perilla frutescens), a member of the family Labiatae, is an
annual herbaceous plant native to Asia. It features extensively in
Japanese cuisine where it has a variety of uses. There are two main
types: red perilla and green leaf perilla or oba. Both types are commonly
called shiso. Red perilla is used as a dye for pickling fruit and
vegetables, as a dried powder to be used as a side dish with rice,
as an ingredient in cake mixes and as a flavouring in beverages. It
is generally harvested and sold as a bulk commodity directly to the
perilla flower heads are also used as a condiment with sushimi,
and three to six-week-old seedlings or sprouts are used as a garnish.
Green leaf perilla, the product most commonly seen in Japanese markets,
is used as a vegetable. Its leaves are used as a wrapping for rice
cake, in salads and tempura. Perilla is also grown for its seed
which can be used for oil production and to flavour foods, especially
pickles. Other market opportunities include oil production from
the foliage, and production for medicinal use (perilla has bactericidal
requires an equitable climate to grow well; it is unsuitable for areas
that experience out-of-season frosts. Warm temperatures, long day
length and adequate moisture are required for good vegetative growth,
and short days for flower production. Most soils considered suitable
for horticulture will support perilla. Sandy soils rich in organic
matter are considered optimum. Fertiliser application depends on residual
soil fertility levels and soil type. Annual dressings of an NPK fertiliser
would, in most cases, be prudent.
is an annual plant propagated by seed. Plants flower and seed in late
summer-autumn with the seed germinating readily if sown in the following
spring. The optimum germination temperature range is 20°C-22°C.
Cool temperatures or dry conditions during germination are likely
to have a detrimental effect on germination and seedling emergence.
most common production method in Japan for green leaf perilla is under
cover in glass or plastic houses. Leaf production occurs during long
days with perilla quickly running to seed when short days commence
in autumn. With artificial heating, lighting, irrigation and successive
planting it is possible to produce perilla continuously. A less expensive
production method is semi-protected planting. Seedlings are grown
in heated beds in a plastic house in late winter, transplanted in
spring and harvested during summer. Using this method, plants are
protected from wind and rain when growing conditions are marginal.
However, without artificial lighting, plants quickly bolt to flower
and seed in autumn. The least expensive production method involves
seedling production in unheated beds in early spring followed by transplanting
in late spring. Harvesting is carried out during the summer months.
Once the plants are 30 cm high, leaves that are 10 cm long (excluding
the petiole) are plucked from the stem. Bundles of 10 leaves are tied
with a rubber band and packaged ready for market. Harvesting, which
is labour-intensive and a major cost to the grower, should be carried
out at least once every two days and more often if plants are growing
perilla, which is not usually produced out of season, is grown as
a bulk commodity and used in Japan mainly by the processing industry.
It is sown, in spring, directly into raised beds that have first been
fertilised and cultivated. Five to six seeds are sown per station
in 80 cm wide raised beds. Seeds are not thinned with four plants
per station at harvest considered optimum. Seeds are sown every 12
cm in rows 40 cm apart. A black plastic mulch is often used to keep
the crop weed-free. In early summer, when plants are about 40 cm high,
the top 10 cm are machine harvested. This harvesting procedure is
repeated as often as required until autumn when the crop starts to
sprouts are used as a garnish by restaurants and hotels. They are
produced in the open during summer and under cover in heated beds
in winter. Prior to sowing, base fertiliser is applied and worked
into the soil. The ground is then worked up into raised beds and the
surface raked to produce a fine tilth. Seeds are broadcast sown. Soil
or sand is then sieved over the seed until they are just covered.
The beds are then watered and covered with straw. After the shoots
have started to appear the mats are removed. Once the seedling leaves
have fully opened and the first true leaves have started to form the
seedlings are cut with scissors, washed and packaged into small wooden
boxes ready for market.
flower heads are also used as a condiment and are required by the
Japanese restaurant and hotel industry all year round. This demand
is satisfied using a range of cultivars and growing under cover during
winter. Seedlings are raised in a nursery and when they have developed
five to six true leaves they are transplanted into beds. Seedlings
are planted in rows 90-120 cm apart. Within-row spacing depends on
the time of the year. Early cultivars flower earlier and, therefore,
require less space. If produced during the off season the crop is
covered in a plastic tunnel to maintain the temperature at 15°C.
Liquid fertiliser is sometimes applied depending on the rate of growth.
For market, flower stalks are cut 15 cm from the tip when five to
six of the flowers have opened. During grading the stalks are cut
to a length of 8-10 cm before packaging ready for market.
wide range of perilla cultivars are grown; the choice depends on the
intended use of the product. The main cultivars for oba production
are Ao-oba (green large leaf), Ao-jiso (green) and Ao-chiri-men-jiso
(green cotton crepe), but most growers develop their own lines by
continually selecting seed from their best plants. When selecting
plants for oba production the following are considered desirable characteristics:
bright green, broad, oval-shaped leaves; leaves with deep serrated
edges; a strong aroma; creped leaf surfaces; vigorous growth; tendancy
to produce many side shoots; and reluctance to bolt in autumn.
mites, aphids and leaf-eating caterpillars are all pests of perilla.
A range of chemicals can be used to control these pests, but withholding
periods after chemical application must be strictly enforced. Reports
from Japan suggest that fungi including damping off, downy mildew
and rust, may also cause problems. In New Zealand, browsing caterpillars
and white fly have been the main problem.
in New Zealand - market potential
in the Waikato, Hawke's Bay and South Auckland areas have demonstrated
that perilla (red and green leaf varieties) can grow well in New Zealand
although the Waikato can be marginal because of out-of-season frosts.
In the Hawke's Bay region perilla at 12 000 plants/ha yielded up to
65 kg/ha leaf dry weight. Some interest has been shown in producing
fresh perilla leaf in New Zealand for the Japanese market, however,
high labour costs and short shelf-life suggest that this commercial
opportunity is unlikely to be realised in the short term. It is more
likely that perilla from New Zealand will be exported in a processed
for both red and green varieties can be obtained from Kings Seeds
copies of this page
page is available in printed form with b&w photos at a cost
Zealand - NZ$2.00;