Litchi chinensis
Family: Sapindaceae

Lychee fruits are available fresh, canned, frozen or dried. 'Fife wrinkly, red fruits contain a sweet, white, edible flesh and a large seed. Lychees are native to southern China and are slow-growing evergreens, reaching 10-12 m (33-40 ft) high and wide in ideal conditions. They are subtropical trees that demand warm, humid summers and cool, frost-free winters. Fruit bearing is very dependent on the weather because, although trees need ample soil mois­ture, especially at flowering time, rain during this period may destroy the flowers before they have been pollinated. Bee and other insect activity is also severely reduced (luring rain. Although there is an enormous number of named varieties in commercial cultivation, home gardeners are likely to be restricted to a few such as 'Brewster', 'Groff', 'Kwai Mi' and 'Mauritius'. Lychees may start bearing after about six years, but seedling trees may take up to 20 years to start cropping.


Except in frost-free climates, the lychee has to be grown under glass, usually as a young foliage plant as fruits are unlikely to be produced. A cool to intermediate greenhouse or conservatory is suitable, growing the plant in a large pot or tub of soil-based potting compost. Ensure good light, but shade from direct sun. Outdoors grow in well-drained soil in a sunny, sheltered position. Propagate from seed germi­nated with bottom heat provided.


Zone 10.

Lycaste      Lychnis