Litchi chinensis
Common Name: lychee
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Sapindaceae
Native Range: Southern China
Zone: 10 to 11
Height: 20.00 to 30.00 feet
Spread: 15.00 to 25.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Evergreen
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Other: Winter Interest

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-11 where this tree is best grown in acidic, fertile, consistently moist, well-drained soils in full sun. Thrives in warm and humid climates but may benefit from a short cool dry period to induce flowering, pollination and fruiting. Locate in areas protected from wind because of susceptibility to wind damage.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Litchi chinensis, commonly known as lychee, is an evergreen monoecious tree with a dense rounded crown that is native to southern China. It is noted for producing an excellent tasting globose to ovoid red fruit. Cultivation of this fruit tree (particularly cultivars thereof) now occurs in tropical and sub-tropical areas around the world including southern Florida, California and Hawaii. It will grow to 110' tall in its native habitat, but usually grows slowly in cultivation to only 20-30' tall over the first 25-30 years. Pinnate compound glossy lime green leaves, each with 4-8 pointed lanceolate leaflets in pairs, are evergreen. Yellow flowers in long terminal and axillary panicles (separate male and female flowers in each panicle) bloom in spring. Flowers are followed by globose to ovoid fruits which turn red when ripe with inner white translucent flesh. Fruits typically mature June -July (sometimes to September). Fruit is eaten fresh when in season, made into preserves, dried (lychee nut), pickled, or frozen with little loss of flavor. Lychee was introduced from China to Hawaii in 1850s. In Hawaii, the tree is grown both commercially for fruit production and as a landscape tree for both shade and fruit harvest.

Genus name comes from the Chinese name for the tree that produces the well-known fruits.

Specific epithet means Chinese.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Scale, weevils, webworms.

Garden Uses

Commercially grown for fruit production. Excellent landscape tree which provides shade, fruit and botanical interest to front or back yards.