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Botanical Name:Arillis Euphoriae Longanae/Dimocarpus longan
Family:Sapindaceae
Pinyin Mandarin Name:Long Yan Rou
Common English Name:Longan Fruit
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales
Genus: Dimocarpus
Species: D. longan
Parts Used:Fruit

Habitat:It is a tropical tree native to southern China. It is also found in Southeast Asia. It is also called guiyuan  in Chinese, lengkeng in Indonesia, mata kucing (literally “cat’s eye”) in Malaysia, nhãn in Vietnamese (The Species: Euphoria longana Lamk. named “long nhãn” in Vietnamese- literally “dragon’s eyes”), Mora in Sinhalese (Sri Lanka) and also “longan” in Tagalog.

Origin and Distribution
The longan is native to southern China, in the provinces of Kwangtung, Kwangsi, Schezwan and Fukien, between elevations of 500 and 1,500 ft (150-450 m). Groff wrote: “The lungan, not so highly prized as the lychee, is nevertheless usually found contiguous to it …. It thrives much better on higher ground than the lychee and endures more frost. It is rarely found growing along the dykes of streams as is the lychee but does especially well on high ground near ponds …. The lungan is more seldom grown under orchard conditions than is the lychee. There is not so large a demand for the fruit and the trees therefore more scattered although one often finds attractive groups of lungan.” Groff says that the longan was introduced into India in 1798 but, in Indian literature, it is averred that the longan is native not only to China but also to southwestern India and the forests of upper Assam and the Garo hills, and is cultivated in Bengal and elsewhere as an ornamental and shade tree. It is commonly grown in former Indochina (Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam and in Taiwan). The tree grows but does not fruit in Malaya and the Philippines. There are many of the trees in Reúnion and Mauritius.

The longan was introduced into Florida from southern China by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1903 and has flourished in a few locations but never became popular. There was a young tree growing at the Agricultural Station in Bermuda in 1913. A tree planted at the Federal Experiment Station in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, was 10 ft (3 m) high in 1926, 23 ft (7 m) in 1929. A longan tree flourished in the Atkins Garden in Cuba and seedlings were distributed but found to fruit irregularly and came to be valued mostly for their shade and ornamental quality. In Hawaii, the longan was found to grow faster and more vigorously than the lychee but the fruit is regarded there as less flavorful than the lychee

Description:

The longan tree is handsome, erect, to 30 or 40 ft (9-12 m) in height and to 45 ft (14 m) in width, with rough-barked trunk to 2 1/2 ft (76.2 cm) thick and long, spreading, slightly drooping, heavily foliaged branches. The evergreen, alternate, paripinnate leaves have 4 to 10 opposite leaflets, elliptic, ovate-oblong or lanceolate, blunt-tipped; 4 to 8 in (10-20 cm) long and 1 3/8 to 2 in (3.5-5 cm) wide; leathery, wavy, glossy-green on the upper surface, minutely hairy and grayish-green beneath. New growth is wine-colored and showy. The pale-yellow, 5- to 6-petalled, hairy-stalked flowers, larger than those of the lychee, are borne in upright terminal panicles, male and female mingled. The fruits, in drooping clusters, are globose, 1/2 to 1 in (1.25-2.5 cm) in diameter, with thin, brittle, yellow-brown to light reddish-brown rind, more or less rough (pebbled), the protuberances much less prominent than those of the lychee. The flesh (aril) is mucilaginous, whitish, translucent, somewhat musky, sweet, but not as sweet as that of the lychee and with less “bouquet”. The seed is round, jet-black, shining, with a circular white spot at the base, giving it the aspect of an eye.

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The plant is very sensitive to frost. Longan trees require sandy soil and temperatures that do not typically go below 4.5 degrees Celsius (40 degrees Fahrenheit). Longans and lychees bear fruit at around the same time of the year.
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The longan (“dragon eyes”) is so named because of the fruit’s resemblance to an eyeball when it is shelled (the black seed shows through the translucent flesh like a pupil/iris). The seed is small, round and hard.Nature of fruit is warm and taste sweet.

Varieties:
It seems that the type of longan originally brought to the New World was not one of the best, having aroused so little interest in the fruit. Groff stated that the leading variety of Fukien was the round-fruited ‘Shih hsía’, the “Stone Gorge Lungan” from P’ing Chou. There were 2 types, one, ‘Hei ho shih hsia’, black-seeded, and ‘Chin ch’ i ho shih hsia’, brown-seeded. This variety did not excel in size but the flesh was crisp, sweeter than in other varieties, the seed small and the dried flesh, after soaking in water, was restored almost to fresh condition.

None of the other 4 varieties described by Groff has any great merit.

‘Wu Yuan’ (“black ball”) has small, sour fruit used for canning. The tree is vigorous and seedlings are valued as rootstocks. ‘Kao Yuan’ is believed to be a slightly better type of this variety and is widely canned.

‘Tsao ho’ (‘Early Rice’) is the earliest variety and a form called ‘Ch’i chin tsao ho’ precedes it by 2 weeks. In quality, both are inferior to ‘Wu Yuan’.

‘She p’ i’ (‘Snake skin’) has the largest fruit, as big as a small lychee and slightly elongated. The skin is rough, the seed large, some of the juice is between the rind and the flesh, and the quality is low. Its only advantage is that it is very late in season.

‘Hua Kioh’ (‘Flower Skin’), slightly elongated, has thin, nearly tasteless flesh, some of the juice is between the rind and the flesh, and the overall quality is poor. It is seldom propagated vegetatively.

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There are no “chicken- tongue” (aborted seed) varieties in China.

There are 2 improved cultivars grown extensively in Taiwan–’Fukien Lungan’ (‘Fukugan’) was introduced from Fukien Province in mainland China. The other, very similar and possibly a mutant of ‘Fukien’, is ‘Lungan Late’, which matures a month later than ‘Fukien’.

To express longan fruit, there is a Vietnamese riddle: Da cóc mà boc bot loc, bot loc mà boc hòn than (literally: Toad’s skin covers tapioca wheat, tapioca wheat covers coal ball): toad’s skin is the ugly skin, tapioca wheat is the clear white flesh and coal ball is the black seed.

Culinary uses:
The fruit is edible, and is often used in East Asian soups, snacks, desserts, and sweet-and-sour foods, either fresh or dried, sometimes canned with syrup in supermarkets. The seeds of fresh longan can be boiled and eaten, with a distinctive nutty flavor.
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Dried longan (Chinese:  pinyin: yuánròu; literally “round meat”) are often used in Chinese cuisine and Chinese sweet dessert soups. In Chinese food therapy and herbal medicine, it is believed to have an effect on relaxation. In contrast with the fresh fruit, which is juicy and white, the flesh of dried longans is dark brown to almost black. In Chinese medicine the longan, much like the lychee, is considered a “warm” fruit.

Other Uses:
Seeds and rind: The seeds, because of their saponin content, are used like soapberries (Sapindus saponaria L.) for shampooing the hair. The seeds and the rind are burned for fuel and are part of the payment of the Chinese women who attend to the drying operation.

Wood: While the tree is not often cut for timber, the wood is used for posts, agricultural implements, furniture and construction. The heartwood is red, hard, and takes a fine polish. It is not highly valued for fuel.

Medicinal Uses:
This herb is used in formulas to treat certain types of insomnia (TCM: due to deficient Heart or Spleen weakness), frequently caused by post-birth weakness where mother has not had sufficient time to recover.

The flesh of the fruit is administered as a stomachic, febrifuge and vermifuge, and is regarded as an antidote for poison. A decoction of the dried flesh is taken as a tonic and treatment for insomnia and neurasthenic neurosis. In both North and South Vietnam, the “eye” of the longan seed is pressed against a snakebite in the belief that it will absorb the venom.

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.

Traditional Uses:
Tonjfies Heart and Spleen, nourishes Blood, and calms Spirit

Common Formulas Used in :Ginseng and Longan

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


Resources:

http://www.acupuncture-and-chinese-medicine.com/longan.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longan
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/longan.html

http://www.bijlmakers.com/fruits/longan.htm

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