From the Manual of Tropical and Subtropical Fruits
by Wilson Popenoe
Euphoria longana, Lam.
differ regarding the value of the longan. It is popular among the
Chinese, but Americans who have tested longans produced in California
and Florida have not as a rule considered them good. Frank N. Meyer
says that they are improved by cooking, and that preserved longans are
considered by some superior to preserved litchis, the flavor being
thought more delicate.
According to Alphonse DeCandolle, the
longan is a native of India, whence it has been introduced into the
Malay Archipelago, southern China, and (recently) tropical America. It
is a tree 30 to 40 feet high, resembling the litchi in habit and
The leaves are compound, with two to five pairs of
elliptic to lanceolate, glabrous, glossy, light green leaflets. The
flowers are borne in terminal and axillary panicles, and are small and
unattractive. The fruit is round, an inch or less in diameter, light
brown in color, with a thin shell-like outer covering, and white flesh
(aril) similar in character to that of the litchi but less sprightly in
flavor. The single seed is dark brown and shining.
"The fruit, which is naturally brown, is generally artificially changed
to a chrome-yellow. It is eaten fresh, canned, or dried. In the last
condition one can obtain it at the Chinese New Year time in the most
northern cities of the Empire. There are several varieties of longans,
differing in size of fruit, productivity, and size of kernel. Their
northern limit of growing seems to be, like that of the litchi, the
region around Foochow."
Analysis of the longan by Alice R.
Thompson has shown the ripe fruit to contain: Total solids 17.61 per
cent, protein 1.41, total sugars 8.34, fat 0.45, and fiber, 0.63.In
French, the longan is commonly termed ceil de dragon (dragon's eye).
The Chinese name is spelled alternatively longyen, long an, lung an,
lingeng, and so on.
Botanical synonyms of Euphoria Longana are Nephelium Longana, Cambess., and Dimocarpus Longan, Lour.
southern California and in southern Florida, the longan thrives and
fruits abundantly if planted in situations not subject to severe
frosts. It withstands lower temperatures than the litchi and is less
exacting in its cultural requirements.
P. D. Barnhart, writing
in the Pacific Garden, says of its culture in California: "We are of
the opinion that the greatest success may only be obtained with it in
the warmer foothill sections of the country, and that, too, beneath the
sheltering arms of live oaks. It seems necessary to protect it from the
direct sunlight and desiccating atmosphere of our summers, as well as
from the frosts of winters. It requires an abundance of water during
the summer months." It has been much more successful on the shallow
soils of the Miami region in southern Florida than its relative the
Propagation is by seed, layering, and grafting, as with
the litchi. Higgins remarks concerning the habits of the tree: "The
statement has been made that it is a slower grower than the litchi, but
this certainly does not hold true under Hawaiian conditions, where it
is a robust tree far exceeding the litchi in vigor and rapidity of
growth. As in the case of the litchi, seedlings frequently are very
tardy coming into bearing." In southern China, where the longan is
extensively grown, it is said to require more pruning than the litchi.
fruit ripens somewhat later than that of the litchi, and is popular
among the Chinese, quantities of it being sold in Hong Kong and Canton
during late summer. Doubtless some of the varieties cultivated in China
are superior in quality of fruit to the seedlings which have been grown
in the United States. It has been the general opinion of those who have
tasted the American-grown longan that it is insipid and somewhat
mawkish, although Barnhart considers it excellent.