(Last Updated on : 26-07-2017)
Lychee is an Indian fruit
, which is the sole member of the genus Litchi
in the soapberry family known as Sapindaceae
. Lychee cultivation began in the regions of China, Vietnam and Malaysia. Lychee has a history of cultivating its first seed as far back as 2000 BC, according to Chinese records. There are many stories of the fruit's use as a delicacy in the Chinese Imperial Court. It was first described and introduced to the west in 1782. Lychee tree is a tropical tree
native to China. The fruit is cultivated in countries like India (Muzaffarpur
, West Bengal
, Uttar Pradesh
). China, Thailand and Vietnam and South-East Asia. According to folklore, a lychee tree that is not producing much fruit can be girdled, leading to increased fruit production.
Essential Conditions for the Cultivation of Lychee
Lychee requires warm tropical to subtropical climate
that is chilly, but also frost-free. The fruit can also grow when there is only very low winter
frost (not below -4 degree Celsius). It requires high summer
and humidity. Lychee is best grown on well-drained and slightly acidic soil
s rich in organic matter.
Description of Lychee
Lychee tree is often less than 15 m (49 ft) tall, but sometimes it reaches a height of more than 28 m (92 ft). Its bark is grey black and the branches are brownish red. The leaves are 10 to 25 cm (3.9 to 9.8 in) in length or longer, with leaflets in 2 to 4 pairs. Lychees have foliage similar to the Lauraceae
family, likely due to convergent evolution. They adapt by developing leaves that repel water
. These leaves are known as laurophyll or lauroid leaves. Flowers
grow on a terminal inflorescence with many panicles. These panicles grow in clusters of ten and sometimes even more. There height ranges from about 10 to 40 cm (3.9 to 16 in). They can even grow longer. They hold hundreds of small white, yellow or green flowers that are distinctively perfumed.
Lychee fruits take 80 to 112 days to ripe, depending on climate, location and cultivators. These fruits are about 5 cm long and 4 cm wide, changing in shape from round to ovoid to heart shaped. The thin and inedible skin is green when immature, ripening to red and pinkish red. It is smooth or covered with small sharp protuberances. The skin also turns brown and dry when left out after harvesting. It can easily be removed to expose the layer of sweet, translucent and white flesh. The fleshy and edible portion of the fruit is an aril, surrounding one dark brown inedible seed that is 1 to 3.3 cm (0.39 to 1.3 in) long and 0.6 to 1.2 cm (0.24 to 0.47 in) wide. Some cultivars produce a high percentage of fruits with shriveled aborted seeds known as chicken tongues. The fruit characteristically has high price, due to more edible flesh. Lychee has a soft, delicate and whitish pulp with a fragrant flavor. As the perfumy flavor is lost in canning, the fruit is generally eaten fresh. Lychees are mainly part of various desserts