Lychees (Litchi chinensis)
Lychee (Litchi chinensis) is a tropical fruit tree native to Southern China and part of the soapberry family Sapindaceae. A hardwood tree with dense, evergreen leaves, it is grown for both ornamental and culinary purposes. It can live for a thousand years, if tropical conditions are perfect.
They are also cultivated in Hawaii, Florida and California.
The fruit’s shell is thin, rough, and leathery, and often colored red. The edible, sweet, translucent and fragrant flesh inside resembles the texture of a grape. Its tough exterior skin peels away easily, and the large, single seed inside should be discarded.
Ripe lychees should have a sweet, floral fragrance and the skin should feel tight to the touch.
In China, they have cultivated lychees for 4,000 years; it is a symbol of love due to its heart-like shape.
According to legend, the fruit was instrumental in the downfall of Emperor Hsuan Tsung (A.D. 756). His concubine, Lady Yang, loved lychees so much that Hsuan Tsung enlisted the imperial courier service’s fast horses to fetch the fruits at a great cost. His court eventually ran out of money
Lychee is rich in vitamin C and potassium. The flesh of the fruit has a distinctive floral aroma, while the juice is enzymic and slightly astringent. These properties make lychees an effective ingredient in deodorants. Enzymes dissolve dead skin and debris and their astringent properties tighten pores.
Their mineral content helps with maintaining healthy skin in sensitive areas.