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Tree Description: The longan is a very close relative of the lychee. The fruit are typically the size of a quarter, and they have a brown leathery shell that contains what looks like a peeled grape with a single seed. The fruit are sweet, with a pleasant aroma, and they taste like a nutty grape. Avg. Height x Width: 25' x 25'. Varieties: Biew Kieuw, Dagelman, Diamond River, Kohala and Sri Chompoo. Season: Late July to September, according to variety. Damage Temp: 24 - 28 F.
Scientific Name: Dimocarpus longana
Common Name: (English) Longan, Dragon eye; (Malaysian and Indonesian): leng keng; (Thai) lam yai
Relatives: Lychee, rambutan
Origin: India and southeast Asia
Distribution/History: China, Taiwan, Thailand, Mayanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, India, Australia, Kenya, some Central and South American countries, and South Africa. In the United States longan is grown in Hawaii, California and south Florida. The longan was introduced to the United States in 1903. Commercial acreage in southern Florida was planted in the 1990s and continues to the present.
Importance: Leaves and flowers are sold in Chinese herb markets but are not a part of ancient traditional medicine. The leaves contain quercetin and quercitrin. Burkill says that the dried flowers are exported to Malaysia for medicinal purposes. The seeds are administered to counteract heavy sweating and the pulverized kernel, which contains saponin, tannin and fat, serves as a styptic. The seeds, because of their saponin content, are used like soapberries (Sapindus saponaria L.) for shampooing the hair.