Lychee, Litchi chinensi. Click the image
for more information about it.
story to find out more.
Lychees Safeguarded in ARS Botanical Library
By Marcia Wood
May 17, 2004
Crack the thin peel of a tropical lychee
and this sweet, fragrant fruit is ready to eat. Or, enjoy lychee's juicy,
nearly translucent flesh in a compote of other exotic tropical fruits like
papaya or kiwi.
A collection of lychee trees from around the world is in the care of
Agricultural Research Service scientists
based at Hilo, Hawaii. This living botanical library preserves most of the
best-known commercial lychee types, and the lesser-known varieties as well. In
all, it's among the best assemblages of lychee outside of China and Southeast
Included in this tropical treasure trove are many kinds of lychees that are
grown in Hawaii. These varieties boast a range of shapes, colors and sizes. Hak
Ip, for example, has thin, smooth, dull-red skin; round- to heart-shaped fruit
and a single, large seed inside. Chen's Purple has bright, purplish-red skin
and elliptical fruit. No Mai Tsz, the world's most sought-after lychee because
of its exceptional flavor, often has only a single, shriveled seed inside. The
seed looks like--and is nicknamed--a "chicken tongue."
The collection also includes India's Bengal; Kwai May Pink, developed in
Australia; and Groff and Kaimana, selected from other candidate lychee trees
for their adaptability to Hawaii's soils and climates. All are descendants of
China's Litchi chinensis, the source of all of today's commercial
Some of the specimens were donated by the University of Hawaii. Others were collected
by Francis T.P. Zee, research leader at ARS'
Basin Tropical Plant Genetic Resource Unit at Hilo, and a university
colleague, Philip Ito, on expeditions to China, Thailand and Taiwan. Still
others were provided through an exchange of specimens with scientists in those
The Hilo repository is part of a nationwide network of plant collections
managed by ARS, the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.
article in ARS' monthly magazine, Agricultural Research, tells more.