Juicy and sweet with a floral scent, lychee is among the most popular summer fruits around the world. Lychee flavored deserts are also always on the menu of restaurants that aim to have a tropical atmosphere.
The growth of lychee requires a tropical climate with high summer heat, rainfall, and humidity. The subtropical Guangdong Province in south China is the ideal home for this fruit. Earliest documentation shows that lychee has been cultivated there for more than two thousand years.
The fleshy and translucent aril, resembling the beautiful and delicate white jade, together with its regional limitation in cultivation, made lychee a rare delicacy in ancient China, when the cultural, economical and political center was in the north. Delivering the fruit from its origin was at great expense due to the long distance of the journey and difficulties in keeping it fresh.
Lychee trees are evergreen plants around 15 meters tall. The tiny white and green flowers blossom under a temperature between 18 and 24 degrees Celsius in spring with a distinctive fragrance. The fruiting period is usually in the summer.
Today, lychees are widely cultivated in subtropical and tropical regions around the world. Since they only stay fresh for three to five days and is always best to eat them right after being picked, processed lychee products like jelly, ice cream, and wine are very popular everywhere.
China's Flora Tour
From the wetlands along the coast to the dense rainforests hidden in southwestern China, all boast an array of plant species. In this series, we will go on a tour to learn about some of the most representative floras in different provinces and see how they live in harmony with the local geography and climate.