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Litchi chinensis

(Lichee)

Overview

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Tree from China with compound leaves, cream- colored flowers, and rough-textured, green to red fruits (produced in may and June). The smooth , white pulp of the fruit has a grape-like consistency and is highly prized when fresh or canned in syrup. The dried fruits, "litchi nuts," are sweeter and more like raisins.

Note the small whitish flowers. The part of the fruit that is eaten is the whitish pulp. The pulpy part is technically an aril, or outgrowth from the funiculus or seed stalk . Seeds in this family are commonly arillate .

Interesting Facts

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Common Names

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Click on the language to view common names.

Common Names in Burmese:

Kyet Mouk, Lam Yai, Lin Chi

Common Names in Chinese:

Li Zhi (Li Chi), Li Zhi Guo

Common Names in Danish:

Kinesisk Blomme, Litchiblomme

Common Names in Dutch:

Lychee

Common Names in English:

Lichee, Chinese Cherry, Leechee, Litchi, Lychee

Common Names in French:

Cerisier De Chine, Letchi (Réunion), Litchi, Litchi De Chine, Litchie, Litchier, Pied De Letchi (Réunion), Quenepe Chinois (Haiti)

Common Names in German:

Litchi, Litchibaum, Litchipflanze, Litschi, Litschibaum, Litschipflaume

Common Names in Greek:

Litsi

Common Names in Italian:

Lici

Common Names in Japanese:

Reishi

Common Names in Khmer:

Kuléén

Common Names in Laotian:

Ngèèw

Common Names in Malay:

Kalengkeng (Indonesia), Kelengkang, Laici, Lici (Indonesia), Litsi (Indonesia) Klengkeng (Indonesia), Mengkuris (Borneo)

Common Names in Portuguese:

Lechia, Lichia, Litchia

Common Names in Russian:

Lichi Kitaiskaia, Lichi Kitaiskoe, Lichi Lichi, Lidzhi Kitaiskoe, Nefelium, Nefelium Lichi

Common Names in Spanish:

Lechia, Lichi, Mamoncillo Chino

Common Names in Swedish:

Kinesiska Plommon, Litchiplommon

Common Names in Tagalog:

Alupag-Amo, Letsias, Licheas

Common Names in Thai:

Lin Cee), Lin Chi Pa, Linchi (Lin Cii, Si Raman (See Raaman), Si Raman Khao, ลิ้นจี่

Common Names in Vietnamese:

Cây Vai, Ngan Xanh

Description

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Family Sapindaceae

Trees or shrubs (or woody vines with tendrils in Cardiospermum and allied genera), rarely herbaceous climbers . Indumentum usually of simple hairs , often glandular on young parts, buds, and inflorescences. Leaves alternate, usually estipulate; leaf blade pinnate or digitate, rarely simple; leaflets alternate to opposite, entire or dentate to serrate. Inflorescence a terminal or axillary thyrse ; bracts and bracteoles small. Flowers unisexual , rarely polygamous or bisexual , actinomorphic or zygomorphic, usually small. Sepals 4 or 5(or 6), equal or unequal, free or connate at base , imbricate or valvate . Petals 4 or 5(or 6), sometimes absent, free, imbricate, usually clawed, often with scales or hair-tufted basal appendages . Disk conspicuous , fleshy , complete or interrupted , lobed or annular , rarely absent. Stamens 5-10(-74), usually 8, rarely numerous , variously inserted but usually within disk, often exserted in male flowers; filaments free, rarely connate; anthers dorsifixed , longitudinally dehiscent , introrse ; staminodes sometimes present in carpellate flowers, but filaments shorter and anthers with a thick wall, indehiscent. Ovary superior, (1-) 3(or 4) -loculed; ovules 1 or 2(or several) per locule, placentation axile , rarely parietal , anatropous , campylotropous, or amphitropous ; style usually apical (terminal), semigynobasic in Allophylus [gynobasic in Deinbollia Schumacher & Thonning]; stigma entire or 2 or 3(or 4) -lobed, usually rudimentary in male flowers. Fruit a loculicidal capsule, berry, or drupe, or consisting of 2 or 3 samaras, often 1-seeded and 1-loculed by abortion . Seeds 1(or 2 or more) per locule; testa black or brown, hard, often with a conspicuous fleshy aril or sarcotesta ; embryo curved , plicate , or twisted, oily and starchy; endosperm usually absent. 2n = 20-36.

One hundred thirty-five genera and ca. 1500 species: widely distributed in tropical and subtropical regions, especially well represented in tropical SE Asia; 21 genera (one endemic) and 52 species (16 endemic, one introduced ) in China.

There is some variation in the circumscription of Sapindaceae in taxonomic treatments, particularly with regard to the inclusion of genera from the closely related, predominately temperate families Aceraceae and Hippocastanaceae. Several studies including Müller and Leenhouts (in Ferguson & Müller, Evolutionary Significance Exine: 407-445. 1976), and more recently those based on molecular data (Stevens, Angiosperm Phylogeny Website, 2001 onward; Harrington et al. , Syst. Bot. 30: 366-382. 2005), supported the recognition of a broadly defined Sapindaceae incorporating Aceraceae and Hippocastanaceae. Harrington et al. (loc. cit. ) proposed four subfamilies or clades, comprising Sapindoideae (including

Koelreuteria and Ungnadia Endlicher), Dodonaeoideae, Hippocastanoideae (including taxa previously referred to Aceraceae and Hippocastanaceae, plus Handeliodendron), and a monotypic "Xanthoceratoideae". Within Hippocastanoideae, Acer Linnaeus and Dipteronia Oliver comprise a monophyletic group and are treated in this Flora as Aceraceae. Similarly, Aesculus Linnaeus, Billia Peyritsch, and the Chinese endemic Handeliodendron Rehder form a monophyletic group and are treated here as Hippocastanaceae. There is some support for "Xanthoceratoideae" being the first lineage to diverge within the broadly defined Sapindaceae assemblage; consequently, Xanthoceras is treated separately from genera in Sapindoideae and Dodonaeoideae in the following account of Sapindaceae s.s. The sequence of genera reflects Müller and Leenhouts (loc. cit.) as modified by recent analyses based on molecular and morphological data, rather than following the order developed by Radlkofer (Sitzungsber. Math.-Phys. Cl. Königl. Bayer. Akad. Wiss. München 20: 105-379. 1890; and in Engler, Pflanzenreich 98a-h(IV . 165) : 1-1539. 1931-1934), which was previously followed in FRPS.

The main economic uses of this family include (1) timber: Amesiodendron chinense, Dimocarpus longan, D. confinis, Litchi chinensis, Pavieasia kwangsiensis, and Pometia pinnata; (2) fruit: Dimocarpus longan, Litchi chinensis, and Nephelium lappaceum; (3) medicine: Dimocarpus longan (arillode ), Litchi chinensis (seeds), and Sapindus saponaria (roots ) ; (4) oil : Amesiodendron chinense, Delavaya toxocarpa, and Xanthoceras sorbifolium. Saponins occur widely in the family, commonly used as a fish poison and for their detergent properties.[1]

Genus Litchi

Trees , monoecious. Leaves paripinnate , alternate, estipulate. Thyrses terminal , golden tomentose ; bracts and bracteoles small. Flowers unisexual , actinomorphic . Calyx cupular, 4- or 5-lobed, valvate , opening early. Petals absent. Disk acetabuliform , entire. Stamens (male flowers) 6-8, exserted; filaments filiform , pilose . Ovary (female flowers) shortly stalked , obcordiform, 2(or 3) -lobed, 2(or 3) -loculed; ovules 1 per locule; style inserted between ovary lobes; stigma 2- or 3-lobed. Fruit deeply parted into 2 or 3 schizocarps, usually only 1 or 2 developed, ovoid or subglobose; pericarp leathery (crustaceous when dry), abaxially with tortoise-shell-like fissure , with scattered conical prominents , sometimes nearly smooth . Seeds nearly same shape as schizocarps; testa brown, nitid , leathery, arillode fleshy , wrapping all or lower half of seed; embryo erect . 2n = 28, 30.

One species: SE Asia; widely cultivated in subtropical regions.[2]

Physical Description

Species Litchi chinensis

Trees , evergreen , often less than 10 m tall, sometimes to 15 m tall or more. Bark grayish black; branches brownish red, terete , with dense white lenticels . Leaves with petiole 10-25 cm or longer ; leaflets 2 or 3(or 4) pairs; petiolules 7-8 mm; blades adaxially deep green and shiny, lanceolate or ovate-lanceolate, sometimes elliptic-lanceolate, 6-15 × 2-4 cm, thinly leathery or leathery, abaxially glaucous, glabrous , lateral veins often slender, conspicuous or slightly prominent abaxially, margin entire, apex cuspidate or shortly caudate-acuminate. Inflorescences terminal , large, many branched. Pedicels 2-4 mm, slender, sometimes short and stout. Calyx golden tomentose . Stamens 6 or 7, sometimes 8; filaments ca. 4 mm. Ovary densely tuberculous and hispid . Fruit usually dark red to fresh red when mature , globose to subglobose, 2-3.5 cm. Seeds thoroughly covered by fleshy arillode . Fl. spring , fr. summer. [source]

Habit: Tree

Flowers: Bloom Period: March. • Flower Color: inconspicuous, none

Size/Age/Growth

Size: 30-40' tall.

Biology

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Reproduction

Duration: Perennial

Growth

Culture: Space 15-20' apart.

Soil: Minimum pH: 5.6 • Maximum pH: 6.5

Sunlight: Sun Exposure: Full Sun .

Temperature: Cold Hardiness: 9b, 10a, 10b, 11. (map)

Taxonomy

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Synonyms

Dimocarpus lichi Loureiro • Litchi chinensis var. euspontanea H. H. Hsue • N. lit-chi Cambessèdes • Nephelium chinense (Sonnerat) Druce • Nephelium litchi Cambess. • Scytalia chinensis (Sonnerat) Gaertner.

Notes

Publishing author : Sonn. Publication : Voy. Ind. iii. 255 (1782)

Name Status: Accepted Name .

Last scrutiny: 15-Mar-2000

Similar Species

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Members of the genus Litchi

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 9 species, subspecies, varieties, forms, and cultivars in this genus:

L. chinensis (Lichee) · L. chinensis chinensis (Lychee) · L. chinensis javensis (Lychee) · L. chinensis 'Brewster' (Lychee) · L. chinensis 'Emperor' (Lychee) · L. chinensis 'Hak Ip' (Lychee) · L. chinensis 'Kwai Mai Pink' (Lychee) · L. chinensis 'Mauritius' (Lychee) · L. chinensis 'Sweet Cliff' (Lychee)

More Info

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Further Reading

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Notes

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Contributors

Data Sources

Accessed through GBIF Data Portal November 14, 2007:

Identifiers

Footnotes

  1. Nianhe Xia & Paul A. Gadek "Sapindaceae". in Flora of China Vol. 12 Page 1, 6. Published by Science Press (Beijing) and Missouri Botanical Garden Press. Online at EFloras.org. [back]
  2. "Litchi". in Flora of China Vol. 12 Page 6, 16. Published by Science Press (Beijing) and Missouri Botanical Garden Press. Online at EFloras.org. [back]
Last Revised: 2014-04-14