|Lychee - Litchi
Common names: widely known as litchi and regionally as lichi, lichee, laichi, leechee or lychee; Spanish and Portuguese-speaking people call the fruit lechia; the French, litchi, or, in French-speaking Haiti, quenepe chinois, distinguishing it from the quenepe, genip or mamoncillo of the West Indies, Melicoccus bijugatus, q.v. The German word is litschi. 5
Dimocarpus lichi Lour., Nephelium
chinense (Sonn.) Druce., Nephelium litchi
Camb., Scytalia chinensis (Sonn.) Gaertn.
Origin: The lychee (Litchi chinensis) is the sole member of the genus Litchi in the soapberry family, Sapindaceae. It is a tropical and subtropical fruit tree native to the Guangdong and Fujian provinces of China, and now cultivated in many parts of the world. China is the main producer of lychees, followed by India, with production occurring among other countries in Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent and South Africa. 5
Lychee, its Origin, Distribution and Production Around the World from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia
Leaf: leaves that bear two to eight pairs of leaflets. Lychee leaves are reddish upon initial flush, but become shiny and green as they mature.
Flowers: are small, greenish, and are borne on a large thyrse (a many-flowered inflorescence), which emerges anytime from late December to April. Consequently, the peak harvest for lychee fruit is from mid-May through early July. 2
Pollination: There are 3 types of flowers appearing in irregular sequence or, at times, simultaneously, in the lychee inflorescence:
a) male; b) hermaphrodite, fruiting as female (about 30% of the total); c) hermaphrodite fruiting as male. The latter tend to possess the most viable pollen. Many of the flowers have defective pollen and this fact probably is the main cause of the abortive seeds and also the common problem of shedding of young fruits. The flowers require transfer of pollen by insects. 5
(25 to 38 mm) in diameter (Figure 5). The skin (pericarp) ranges from yellow to pinkish or red and is leathery, with small, short, conical or rounded protuberances. The edible portion of the fruit (pulp) is called an aril that is succulent, whitish, translucent, with excellent subacid flavor. Fruits contain one shiny, dark brown seed, usually relatively large, but it may be small and shriveled (called chicken tongues) in some varieties. Fruit must be ripened on the tree for best flavor. 2
Because of the firmness of the shell of the dried fruits, they came to be nicknamed "lychee, or litchi, nuts" by the uninitiated and this erroneous name has led to much misunderstanding of the nature of this highly desirable fruit. It is definitely not a "nut", and the seed is inedible. 5
Chinese method of air-layering has many variations. In fact, 92
modifications have been recorded and experimented with in Hawaii.
Inarching is also an ancient custom, selected cultivars being joined to
'Mountain' lychee rootstock.
Varieties Note: One variety that will not grow well in lime rock is the Emperor. The Emperor is a unique lychee that produces an enormous, juicy fruit with a tiny seed. To grow an Emperor in limestone soils you must graft the tree and the end result is a dwarfed slow growing specimen. 3
Climate: Lychee does not fruit satisfactorily at sea level in tropical climates and is best adapted to warm to cool subtropical areas. The best climates for lychee production have a dry, cold (but nonfreezing) winter period lasting 3 to 5 months; a warm spring during the flowering period; a hot and humid summer during fruit growth, development, and maturation; and moderately warm temperatures during the fall. Periodic rainfall during spring and summer is ideal. Young trees are damaged at temperatures of 28° to 32°F (-2° to 0°C), while temperatures down to 24° to 25°F (-3° to -4°C) cause extensive damage or death to large trees if exposed for several hours. Lychee trees do not acclimate to cold temperatures after exposure to cool, nonfreezing temperatures. Symptoms of cold damage include leaf death, leaf drop, stem and limb dieback, bark splitting, and tree death. 2
Harvest: The Fruit must be allowed to ripen fully on the tree. Overly mature fruit darken in color and lose their luster. The flavor lacks the richness associated with a certain amount of acidity. To harvest, snip off entire fruit clusters, keeping a short piece of the stem attached. Lychees can be stored for up five weeks in the refrigerator. They can also be frozen or dried. Lychees will begin to deteriorate within three days at room temperature. 4
In China, great quantities of honey are harvested from hives near lychee trees. Honey from bee colonies in lychee groves in Florida is light amber, of the highest quality, with a rich, delicious flavor like that of the juice which leaks when the fruit is peeled, and the honey does not granulate. 5
Pruning: Generally training of young trees is not required. However, formative pruning during the first 2 years may be desirable to encourage lateral branching and growth. After several years of production it is desirable to cut back the tops of the trees to 10 to 15 feet (3.0 to 4.6 m). Selectively removing a few upper limbs back to their origin (crotches) each year will help prevent the loss of the lower tree canopy due to shading by the upper canopy. Pruning should be carried out immediately after harvest to allow regrowth and maturation of new shoots and leaves before the onset of cool/cold winter temperatures. 2
note: Lychee pests are very specific to the locale of
the tree. In our grove in South Florida we get weevils, webworms and
fungus. While there are lots of noxious life forms to be found on the
trees such as ants, scale, lichens and stink bugs the big troublemakers
are aforementioned nasties.
From the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia
Growing Lychees in Hawaii from the University of Hawaii Cooperative Extension pdf 8 pages
Lychee Recipes from the Virtual Herbarium at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
New Options for Lychees and Longans Fans and Farmers from the USDA Agriculture Research Service
Florida Growers Like Lychees and Longans from the USDA Agriculture Research Service
The Lychee Crop in Asia and the Pacific from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations pdf 40 pages
Florida Food Fare from the University of Florida pdf
Lychee (Litchi chinensis) from the Specialty Crops for Pacific Island Agroforesty pdf 13 pages
The Litchi and its Relatives from Wilson Popenoe's book Manual of Tropical and Subtropical Fruits
Very Comprehensive Website: Lychees Online ext. link
1 Folino, Krystal and Mee, Bill. "8 Essential Factors for Growing Healthy Lychee Trees". lycheesonline.com N.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2014.
2 Crane,Jonathan H., Balerdi, Carlos F.
and Maguire, Ian. "Lychee Growing in the Florida Home Landscape." edis.ifas.ufl.edu.
This document is Fact Sheet HS-6, one of a series of the Horticultural
Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. First printed Oct. 1968.
Revisions Oct. 2008 and Oct. 2013. Web. 24 Jan. 2014.
3 Mee, William. "Grafting and Grafted Lychee Trees". lycheesonline.com. N.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2014.
4 "Lychee, Litchi chinensis Sonn". crfg.org. 1996. Web. 11 June 2014.
5 Morton, J. "Lychee." hort.purdue.edu. Fruits of warm climates, p. 240-259. 1987. Web. 28 Mar. 2015.
Fig. 1 Mee, Bill and Folino, Krystal. A cluster of Emperor Lychee Fruit. N.d. lycheesonline.com. Web. Cir. 2007.
Fig.2,5,6,8,19,20,21 Maguire, Ian. N.d. edis.ifas.ufl.edu. Web. 25 Jan. 2014.
Fig. 3,4,24 Mark, W.and Reimer, J. Lychee, Litchi chinensis. N.d. selectree.ccalpoly.edu. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.
Fig. 7 Garg, J.M. Inflorescense. N.d. tropical.theferns.info. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.
Fig. 9,10,17 Antheunisse, Max. Litchi chinensis. N.d. plantillustrations.org. Madagascar. Web. 30 Mar. 2015.
Fig. 11 Jaitt, Oscar. Lychee. N.d. fruitlovers.com. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.
Fig. 12 Viatour, Luc. Fruits, some opened to reveal the white flesh and brown seed. N.d. tropical.theferns.info. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.
Fig. 13 Thaumaturgist. Leaves and unripe fruits. N.d. tropical.theferns.info. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.
Fig. 14 Thaumaturgist. Fruiting branches. N.d. tropical.theferns.info. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.
Fig. 15 Tandon, Parshotam Lal. Litchi , Litchi chinensis Sonn, Family: Spindaceae. 2014. flickr.com. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.
Fig. 16 Tu7uh."Lychees for sale at a Malaysian fruit stall. 2012. commons.wikimedia.org. Web. 29 Mar. 2015.
Fig. 18 Lorenzini, Lacopo. Propagating the plant by air layering - the young white roots are already showing in the plastic bag. N.d. tropical.theferns.info. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.
Fig. 22,25 navez, B. "runks of Litchi chinensis. 2006. commons.wikimedia.org. Picture taken on Réunion island. Web. 28 Mar. 2015.
Fig. 23 Starr, Forest and Kim. Litchi chinensis subsp. chinensis (Litchi, lychee) Habit. starrenvironmental.com. Garden of Eden Keanae, Maui. Web. 30 Mar. 2015.
Published 12 Oct. 2013 LR. Updated 5 Apr. 2015 LR