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Monday, July 13, 2009

Longan Fruits and The Longan Tree

The Longan Tree
This tree is native to Southern China. It is also grown in Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and other parts of South East Asia.

A bunch of unriped longan fruits hanging from the tree.

China is a major exporter of longans. In Lamphun Province, Thailand, a Longan Festival is held around July-August every year. There will be a longan fruit festival, exhibition, contest for best quality longan and even a Miss Longan Beauty Contest. Longan is known as 'lumyai' in Thailand. Move over to Taiwan, and they have the Dongshan Longan Festial.
A bunch of riped longan fruits.

The Longan Fruit is also known as "mata kuching" in malay, meaning cat's eye. In chinese, "longan" means dragon's eye. In Vietnam, it is known as "long nhan".

Longan fruits are in season now. We can find longans being sold at many fruit stalls throughout the country. These longans are very sweet and tasty.

An opened longan fruit

The skin of the fruit is dry and thin. It is brown in colour and looks like frog skin. The flesh on the inside is crystal white in colour while the seed is black, hard and round. The flesh of the longan fruit is very sweet and delicious. Riped fruits can be eaten fresh from the tree.

Canned longan flesh is used to make cold desserts, added to jellies, and as toppings on fruit cakes and tarts. Canned longans can be made into cold drinks, mix fruit drink and added to fruit punch.

While fresh longan flesh is white in colour, dried longan flesh is dark brown to almost black in colour. Dried longan flesh is consumed for health purposes. Here, it is mixed with other herbs to make herbal soups, herbal drinks and hot desserts.

The Longan Tree

Scientific name: Dimorcarpus longan var. longan
Chinese name: Longan (dragon eyes)

Family: Sapindaceae (rambutan family)
Origin: China

The longan tree is a small to medium sized straggly tree. A full grown longan tree can reach up to 40 feet tall. The longan tree doesn't stand drought, therefore it is necessary water it regularly. Constant prunning is also needed. This tree needs quite a lot of space to grow. Grow under the full sun. Propagation is by grafting from selected cultivars, eg. those with sweet thick flesh from China and Thailand. 

The tree in the picture above belongs to my neighbour. The front portion of the garden is around 5ft by 5ft, just enough to accomodate this tree. Flowering occurs around March and fruiting is usually from July to September. A bountiful harvest this season may reduce the next season's quantity of longans.


  1. Hi Autumn Belle! The Longan tree is very interesting and exotic. This is the first time to me when I hear about this tree. The fruit looks like nice :) Kaija

  2. Morning Belle,
    Longans very nice but as peanuts, they are addicting... I can just hold a bunch and finish off in seconds!!... We just had rambutans and mangosteens, another local delicacy!! ~ bangchik

  3. I have a longan tree in my garden but it hasn't fruited. Can't wait to eat the fruits .Any suggestions? Thanks for the post.

  4. Autumn Belle, I want some of these, now! Actually I was in Chinatown (NY) last month and the street carts had them, as well as fresh lychees..expensive but they were good!

  5. Kaija, you should try this fruit when you have a chance. Very different in appearance from your juicy berries but inside it is very sweet and tasty.

    Bangchik and Lynn. Yes, this fruit is addictive, sometimes irresistable. So, we must be careful because the Chinese consider it as a 'warm' fruit, so eating a lot during hot season may lead to sore throat, etc.

  6. Sunshine Girl, I have 2 suggestions here:
    1. Talk to the tree. Use your fist to box the tree to stimulate the tree to act i.e. to reproduce! I do believe that all my plants are like my children. You need to know their characters and sometimes you need to whack them. LOL.
    2. Facts from my neighbour - the tree needs a lot of water and prunning. You may need to pull down the branches until it is horizontal so that sunlight can come in and to facilitate air circulation. From my observation that is what they do. Also, they didn't really apply much fertilizer to it.

  7. Autumnbelle, this tree look so productive. Those longans are amazing! Does it taste as sweet as those from Thailand (sold in the market)? I prefer fruits that are not so sweet. Actually longan is not one of my favourites. But once in a while it is nice to take it especially after putting them into the fridge. The flesh is so cool and nice ;-) Happy Monday!

  8. Steph, the fruits are not as sweet as the Thailand ones. I think those from Thailand are sometimes extremely sweet.

  9. I love this post! I have studied Longan Fruit in Acupuncture School (long yan rou) but have never seen the fruiting tree. Seeing the pictures helps me connect with it more so thank you!

  10. That was so interesting. I've never heard of them or tasted such a thing that I know of. I suppose if it can be prepared in so many ways then I might have tasted it and didn't know. It's a pretty fruit and rather large tree. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Dilley, Anna. Maybe you can find fresh longans in Chinatown. If you do, try it. It is really sweet and tasty.

  12. HI, thanks so much for the tips about encouraging fuiting. Will try :)

  13. Sunshine Girl, actually regarding the idea about boxing the tree or confronting the tree, I honestly believe this works. It worked on my orchid. Maybe you can try this as the last resort.

  14. I love longans too! They are so sweet and one can easily finish the whole bunch before he realizes it.

    So glad that now is the season of many local fruits, e.g. mangosteen, rambutan, durian and longan!!

  15. Yes, JC. Eat local to reduce carbon footprint.

  16. Thanks, I did not know about Longan fruit. I just recently bought lychees on stems in a Bangladeshi store. Peeled and washed, put in fridge with ice. Next day mmm, mmm. Now I will look for Longans.

  17. NY City Garden, do have a try on the longan. I'm sure you can find it in Chinatown too.

  18. I first tasted longan in Paris. A girl friend of mine who is from Mauritius was walking with me to my school in the Parisian capital. We passed by an Asian grocery store when she spotted some longan.She quickly bought a bunch and procedded to show me how it is eaten. It was delicious from my first bite. There is a similar fruit here but not as nice called guinip. It has pink flesh and a large seed. The flesh is hard to suck off and can be from sweet to acid. It is eaten when the skin is still green. But longans are better and sweeter. I have been looking for a tree for many years and no one has any on my island. I will have to plant one from seed when I go to the USA. I would love to have a tree in my garden........Sigh!

  19. They look so much like lychees. Do they taste similar? I've never tasted longans. I wish I had known about them when I was in Malaysia few months ago.

  20. My dear Helen, Sunita. Thank you very much for visiting my blog with your nice comments. I think that the longan is much sweeter and crunchier than the lychee whether taken fresh or canned. The longan season has just started this month. Do try some if longan is available in your area.


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