Characteristics of Longan Tree (Dimocarpus longan) in the Wild

Dimocarpus longan
Longan is a fruiting tree species from the tropics believed to be from the mountains in Myanmar and southern China.

The name “longan” comes from the Cantonese language (龍眼), and means “dragon’s eye”. So named because of the shape of the fruit that resembles an eyeball when the skin is peeled.

Longan tree was officially introduced to Australia in the mid 1800s, Thailand in the late 1800s, then Hawaii and Florida in the 1900s.

The earliest records of the longan tree were found in the Han Dynasty (200 BC). The emperor demanded lychees and curved trees be planted in his palace garden in Shaanxi, but the plant failed to grow. 400 years later, longan trees flourish in other regions of China, such as in Fujian and Guangdong.

Currently, longan trees are planted and cultivated on a large scale in southern China, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Australia, the United States, and Mauritius.

 

Characteristics of Longan Leaf

Dimocarpus longan Leaf
Source : flickr.com/Plantaholic Sheila

The leaves are oval and blunt-tipped, usually 15-20 cm long and around 5-6 cm wide. The leaves grow pinnately and consist of 6-9 pairs of leaflets. The top surface of the leaves is bumpy and has a shiny dark green color.

 

Characteristics of Longan Flower

Dimocarpus longan Flower
Source : flickr.com/Forest and Kim Starr

Longan tree produces light yellow flowers at the tips of branches. It is small, 5-6 sepals, brownish-yellow petals, has two lobes, and 8 stamens.

 

Characteristics of Longan Fruit

Dimocarpus longan Fruit
Source : flickr.com/Duy Thuong Ngo

Longan fruit hanging, in groups, drooping, and about 3 cm in diameter. The rind is brown, thin, and rough. The flesh is transparent white, and the seeds are large, glossy black. Longan fruit has a musky taste, which is a sweet taste that can be compared with the taste of lychees.

Ripe longan fruit will be harvested when the skin is thin, hard, and easy to peel.

 

Characteristics of Longan Tree

Dimocarpus longan Tree
Source : flickr.com/Forest and Kim Starr

Longan tree is sensitive to cold weather. The tree prefers warm temperatures and sandy soil. Warm weather conditions (USDA 10-11) allow for healthier growth of curved trees.

The population of wild longan trees has been widely destroyed by large-scale logging in the past. Because of that, now the longan tree has no natural habitat and is only propagated or cultivated by farmers.

 

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