A close relative of the more popular lychee (litchi), the longan tree is a handsome, upright shade tree growing 30-40' tall and wide in the landscape. Branches are long, spreading, slightly drooping, and heavily foliaged, rendering it a fine shade tree for a garden. New growth is wine-colored and showy. The pale yellow flowers are borne in upright terminal panicles, male and female mingled. The small round fruits form in drooping clusters and generally ripen in August and September in South Florida. The flavor is musky and sweet, but not as sugary as the lychee. The fruit's seed is round and jet-black, with a circular white spot at the base, giving it the appearance of an eye. This inspired the common name: Longan ("Lóng Yan") literally means "Dragon Eye" in Chinese.
The longan thrives best in full sun and a rich sandy loam soil; it will also grow well in moderately acid, somewhat organic sand. It grows to a large size and bears heavily in oolitic limestone, making it especially well suited to many areas of South Florida. The longan needs an adequate supply of water and can even stand brief flooding, but not prolonged drought. Irrigation is necessary during the dry season. If fruit clusters are thinned as they begin to form, the size and quality of the fruits will increase.
THE WILD PAPAYA…
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