Grafted HLH Mauritius lychee tree
Scientific name: Litchi chinensis,
English Name: Lychee nut
Litchi chinensis is a, dense, round-topped tree with a smooth, grey, trunk and limbs. Under ideal conditions it may reach 12m high, but is usually much smaller. Leaves leathery, pinnate, divided into 4-8 pairs of elliptic or lanceolate, acuminate, glabrous leaflets, 5-7 cm long, reddish when young, becoming shiny and bright green. Litchi chinensis is one of the most environmentally sensitive of the tropical tree crops.
It is adapted to the tropics and warm subtropics, producing best in regions with winters that are short, dry and cool but frost free, and summers that are long and hot with high rainfall. Good protection from wind is essential for cropping. Year-to-year variations in weather precipitate crop failures, for example, through untimely rain promoting flushing at the expense of floral development, or through poor fruit set following damp weather during bloom. The tree needs well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. A soil pH between 5.5 and 7.5 is acceptable, but plants grow much better in soils with a pH at the low end of this range.
The fruit, its peel and the seed are used in traditional medicine; decoctions of the root, bark and flowers are used as a gargle. Seeds are used as an anodyne in neuralgic disorders and orchitis.
The juicy aril is the edible part of the lychee. It may be eaten fresh or juiced, preserved in syrup and canned, dried or frozen. Lychee nuts are fruit that has been dried, either artificially or in the sun. The food value of lychee lies in its sugar content, which ranges from 7 to 21%, depending on climate and cultivar. Fruit also contains about 0.7% protein, 0.3% fat, 0.7% minerals (particularly calcium and phosphorus) and is a reasonable source of vitamins C (64 mg/100 g pulp), A, B1 and B2. The strong appeal of lychee lies in the exquisite aroma of the fruit. The wood of Litchi chinensis is said to be nearly indestructible, although it is brittle and has limited uses. Tannin or dyestuff: Bark contains tannin. Litchi chinensis fruits are processed into wine. Litchi chinensis trees are beautiful in spring, when they are covered with huge sprays of flowers; they are also an attractive sight when in full fruit. These characteristics make it a popular ornamental tree in parks and gardens.
Litchi is adapted to the tropics and warm subtropics, producing best in regions with winters that are short, dry and cool but frost free, and summers that are long and hot with high rainfall. In the tropics it may thrive better at some elevation because of its requirement for winter chilling. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 35°c, but can tolerate 15 - 40°c. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,000 - 1,700mm, but tolerates 700 - 2,800mm.