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Scientific Name Litchi chinensis


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50 Common Trees in Hong Kong Volume 2



Scientific Name

Litchi chinensis

Name in Chinese

荔枝

Common Name

Lychee

Introduction

Litchi chinensis is an evergreen tree from China. It is one of the best-known Chinese fruit trees because of its tasty flesh. It is widely planted in Southern China.

Lychee prefers porous sandy soil and is commonly seen along riverbanks and canals. It is not tolerant to the cold and mainly grows in southern areas. In Hong Kong, it can be found in Tai Po, Sheung Shui, Yuen Long and Lantau Island.



Special Features

The fruit is round with a red and rough shell, 2.5 to 4 cm across. The flesh is white with a glossy brown seed, tastes sweet. The flowers are small and yellow, in long terminal leafless panicles. The calyx is small without corolla.

To Learn More

Some places in the New Territories have planted lychee for several hundred years, and therefore named after lychee. Examples are ‘Lai Chi Shan’ in Tai Po, ‘Lai Chi Wo’ in Sha Tau Kok and ‘Lai Chi Chong’ in Sai Kung. The leaves, roots, flesh and seeds of lychee can be used as medicine. The flesh can be eaten fresh or preserved by drying or canning. However, many people have allergy on skin, in throat or even got fever after eating too much lychee. Therefore we should not eat too much.







Characteristics

Whole Plant

Family

Sapindaceae

Height

Up to 12 metres

Nature

of Leaf

Evergreen tree

Others

Short and spreading crown

Photo

Lions Nature Education Centre

Branch

  • Obvious main trunk, branching high.

  • Branches bent.

Bark

  • Rough bark.

Leaf

    • Leaves alternate, pinnately compound, with 2 to 4 pairs of leaflets.

    • Leaflets oblong lanceolate, 5 to 10 cm long, grown along leaf axis.

    • Leaflets apex acute, base tapering, margin entire.

    • Texture rather leathery. Surfaces smooth.

Flower

Photo 1:

  • Both unisexual and bisexual flowers on the same tree, regular, flowering in spring.

  • Flowers small, yellowish, in terminal panicles.

  • Calyx small, no corolla.

Photo 2:

  • Above is a close-up shot of the flowers.

Fruit

  • Fruits round, red shell with uneven surface, 2.5 to 4 cm across.

  • Flesh white, tastes sweet, contains one glossy brown seed.




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