1) Plant History & General Information:
- Location on Property: Garden Z
- Scientific Name: Litchi chinensis subsp. chinensis
- Region of Origin: Native to the Guangdong and Fujian provinces of China.
- Type: Edible
- General History: Lychee is the sole member of the genus Litchi in the soapberry family, Sapindaceae. Litchi chinensis is an evergreen tree that is frequently less than 15 m (49 ft) tall, sometimes reaching 28 m (92 ft). The bark is grey-black, the branches a brownish-red. Leaves are 10 to 25 cm (3.9 to 9.8 in) or longer, with leaflets in 2-4 pairs. Lychee have a similar foliage to the Lauraceae family likely due to convergent evolution. Flowers grow on a terminal inflorescence with many panicles on the current season’s growth. The panicles grow in clusters of ten or more, reaching 10 to 40 cm (3.9 to 15.7 in) or longer, holding hundreds of small white, yellow, or green flowers that are distinctively fragrant. The lychee bears fleshy fruits that mature in 80–112 days depending on climate, location, and cultivar. Fruits vary in shape from round to ovoid to heart-shaped, up to 5 cm long and 4 cm wide (2.0 in × 1.6 in), weighing approximately 20 g. The thin, tough skin is green when immature, ripening to red or pink-red, and is smooth or covered with small sharp protuberances roughly textured. The rind is inedible but easily removed to expose a layer of translucent white fleshy aril with a floral smell and a fragrant, sweet flavor.
2) Plant Uses:
- As Food: Since the perfume-like flavor is lost in the process of canning, the fruit is usually eaten fresh. Fresh whole lychee contains a total 72 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams of fruit, an amount representing 86% of the Daily Value. On average, consuming nine peeled lychee fruits would meet an adult’s daily vitamin C requirement! Along with high levels of vitamin C, lychee also contains many other healthy vitamins and minerals including vitamin B6, niacin, riboflavin, folate, copper, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese. Furthermore, lychee is a great source of dietary fiber, protein, and a good source of proanthocyanidins and polyphenolic compounds.
- As Medicine: In traditional Chinese medicine, lychee is known as a fruit with “hot” properties.
- Other Uses:
3) Growing Instructions
- Growing: They require a tropical climate that is frost-free and is not below the temperature of −4 °C (25 °F), Lychees also require a climate with high summer heat, rainfall, and humidity. Wind protection is critical for good growth and fruit production. An ideal orchard site has long, hot days in summer (82°F, 2 8°C), adequate rainfall (around 63 inches, 1600 mm), and a cool, dry winter with day/night temperatures of 59/50°F (15/10°C).
- Best time to Harvest: Lychee trees bear fruit from May to August in Hawaii with optimal harvest time in June and July.
- Sunlight Requirements: Shade while juvenile, then full sun when mature and ‘hardened’.
- Soil Requirements: Growth is best on well-drained, slightly acidic soils rich in organic matter and mulch.
- Propagation: Lychee is most commonly propagated by air-layering.
- Difficulties with this plant: When young, Lychee trees can be quite suseptible to wind and sun damage.