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 heat, rainfall and humidity. Lychee is best grown on well-drained and slightly acidic soils 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.