From the Archives
of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia, inc.
by Gene Joyner
longan is a large evergreen tree that is becoming very popular in South
Florida landscapes. Native to southeast Asia, this beautiful tree
produces showy clusters of grape-like fruit during the mid-to-late
summer. Trees can grow as high as forty feet or more and are
well-adapted for a wide variety of soil and moisture conditions.
are some limited commercial plantings of longan in the south Florida
area, and it is becoming more widely planted as a commercial fruit as
good-bearing cultivars become available.
Trees produce fruit on
terminal clusters during the midsummer months, and there may be as many
as thirty fruit or more in individual clusters. Fruit size varies from
about three-quarters of an inch to an inch and a half, depending on the
variety; at present, one introduced from Hawaii called Kohala is the
most widely sought-after for both commercial and dooryard plantings.
have a tough, leathery brown skin which is easily cracked, and the
inside flesh is a translucent or whitish color with a medium-sized
shiny brown seed. Flesh is very sweet and very moist, and few people
don't like eating this fruit out-of-hand. It also can be canned and
frozen for prolonged periods without any loss of quality.
can be seed-propagated, but seedlings do not come true to type and may
take up to six to eight years to start bearing. A more practical way of
propagation is by air-layering, which takes about eight to ten weeks,
or veneer grafting on seedling rootstocks. Air-layered trees generally
will bear within one to two years after being planted and grafted trees
may bear the next year after being planted.
Longans prefer an
acid soil, and on high-pH soils may develop nutritional deficiencies
that require regular nutritional sprays to correct. Trees have poor
salt tolerance and should not be planted where they are exposed to
strong salt winds. However, they have excellent cold-hardiness and
mature trees have reportedly withstood temperatures as low as 24°F.