Litchi chinensis Sonn.

Scientific Name

Litchi chinensis Sonn.


Corvinia litschi Stadtm. Ex Willemet., Euphoria didyma Blanco., Euphoria litchi Juss. ex Desf. [Illegitimate]., Euphoria sinensis J.F.Gmel., Nephelium chinense (Sonn.) Druce [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Laici, kelengkang [2]
English Lychee, litchi [2], litchee, litchi [3]
China Li chih, li zhi, tan i [3]
Indonesia Litsi (Indonesian); klèngkeng (Javanese); kalèngkeng (Madurese) [2]
Thailand Linchee, litchi, see raaman (Chantaburi) [2]
Laos Ngèèw [2]
Myanmar Kyet-mouk, lin chi, lam yai [2]
Philippines Letsias[2]
Cambodia Kulèèn [2]
Vietnam Vai, cây vai, tu hú [2]
Japan Reishi, riichii [3]
France Cérisier de la Chine, litchi de Chine [2].

Geographical Distributions

Litchi chinensis is originated from the region between Southern China, Northern Vietnam and Malaysia. Wild trees grow in elevated and low rainforests where in some parts of Southern China, it is one of the main forest species. It has a long history in Southern China and has undergone intensive selection. It was cultivated by people of Malayan descent possibly as early as 1500 BC, long before the Chinese moved in. The spread of L. chinensis to other countries in the last 400 years has been slow, due to the climatic requirement and the short life of its seed. Within Southeast Asia, only Northern Thailand produces L. chinensis in quantity and there is one valley in Bali where the crop is grown commercially. Elsewhere in Southeast Asia, the trees usually fail to flower, although in Thailand, a lowland type of L. chinensis bears fruit. [2]

Botanical Description

L. chinensis is a member of the Sapindaceae family. It is a large, long-lived, evergreen tree, which can grow up to 30 m tall and with a short stocky trunk. In some cultivars, the branches are crooked or twisting, spreading and form a broad crown, while in other cultivars, the branches are fairly straight, upright and form a compact rounded crown. [2]

The leaves are arranged alternately, 2-4(-5)-jugate and pinnately compound. The petiolules are 3-8 mm long. The leaflets are oblong-to lance-shaped, measuring (3-)8-11(-16) cm x 1.75-4 cm, chartaceous to coriaceous, glossy and deep green above but pale bluish-green beneath. [2]

The inflorescences are with many-branched panicles, 5-30 cm long and many-flowered. The flowers are small, yellowish-white and functionally male or female. The sepal is 4-merous while the petal is absent. There are 6(-10) stamens. The filaments in male flowers are at least twice the length of the sepal but very short in the female flowers. [2]

The fruit is a rounded, ovoid or heart-shaped drupe, about 3-3.5 cm in diametre; with thin exocarp, leathery, bright red to purplish, nearly smooth or scaly to densely set with flat, conical and acute warts. The fleshy edible portion is the aril, an outgrowth of the seed stalk. The aril is white and translucent. [2]

The seed is measures 10-23 mm x 6-12 mm and brown. [2]


L. chinensis is one of the most environmentally sensitive of the tropical tree crops. It is adapted to the tropics and warm subtropics (between 13-32°N and 6-29°S), cropping best in regions with winters that are short, dry and cool (daily maximum temperature below 20-22°C) but frost-free, and summers that are long and hot (daily maximum temperature above 25°C) with high rainfall (1200 mm) and high humidity. Good protection from wind is essential for cropping. Year-to-year variations in weather causes crop failures, e.g. through untimely rain promoting flushing at the expense of floral development or through poor fruit set following cool, damp weather during bloom, even though mean climatic data appear favorable for L. chinensis. [2]

Chemical Constituent

No documentation

Plant Part Used

No documentation

Traditional Use

No documentation

Preclinical Data

No documentation

Clinical Data

No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of L. chinesis [2]


  1. The Plant List. Ver 1.1. Litchi chinensis Sonn.[homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 March 23; cited 2015 June 24] Available from:
  2. Menzel, C.M., 1991. Litchi chinensis Sonn. In: Verheij EWM, Coronel RE, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia no 2: Edible nuts and fruits. Wageningen, Netherlands: Pudoc Scientific Publisher; 1991. p 191-195.
  3. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms and etymology. Volume III E-L. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press; 2012. p 795.