Family • Rutaceae / Sapindaceae - Litchi chinensis Sonn. - LYCHEE - Li zhi guo

Scientific names

Litchi chinensis Sonn.
Litchi litchi Britt.
Nephelium litchi Cambess

Common names

Litsiyas (Tag.) Litchi (Engl.)
Chinese cherry (Engl.) Lychee (Engl.)
Leechee (Engl.) Li zi (Chin.)
Lichee (Engl.)

Gen info
Lychee cultivation is recorded in China as far back as 2000 BC. Litchi chinensi is the sole member of the genus Litchi in the soapberry family. In the Philippines, a relatively unknown indigenous species belonging to the same genus is called “alupag” (Litchi chinensis subsp. philippinensis). Initial grafting trials suggest it has good rootstock potential and compatibility with lychee.


Litsiyas is a handsome, dense, slow-growing, round-topped tree, growing to a height of 10 to 30 meters. Leaves are alternate, up to 20 centimeters long, acuminate, and leatheary. Flowers are greeninsh white, in terminal panicles. Fruit is rounded, red, 3 to 5 centimeters long, with a pink-red, roughly texture rind, with a sweet, transluscent, fleshy edible aril.

– In the Philippines, found predominatly in the cool highlands of the Cordilleras. specifically Benguet and Baguio and in Cervantes, Ilocos Sur.- Introduced from China in the early 20th century.
– Native to the low elevations of provinces of Kwangtung and Fukien in southern China.
– Extensive plantings in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma, Taiwan, Japan, Queensland, Madagascar, Brazil, and

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Lychee / Litchi chinensis Sonn. / Morton, J. 1987. Lychee. p. 249–259. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL. / HortPurdueEdu

(2) LYCHEE PRODUCTION IN THE PHILIPPINES / Rachel Sotto / FAO Corporate Document Repository

(3) Aldose reductase inhibitors from Litchi chinensis Sonn. / Lee SJ, Park WH, Park SD, Moon HI. / J Enzyme Inhib Med Chem. 2009 Aug;24(4):957-9.

(4) Hepatoprotective effects of lychee (Litchi chinensis Sonn.): a combination of antioxidant and anti-apoptotic activities/ Bhoopat L, Srichairatanakool S, Kanjanapothi D, Taesotikul T, Thananchai H, Bhoopat T. / J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Jun 14;136(1):55-66. Epub 2011 Apr 20.

(5) Antiplatelet, anticoagulant and fibrinolytic effects of Litchi chinensis Sonn. extract / Yoon-Young Sung, Won-Kyung Yang, Ho Kyoung Kim / Doi: 10.3892/mmr.2011.735

(6) Hepatoprotective Activity of Fruit Pulp Extract of Litchi chinensis Sonner on Carbon tetrachloride Induced Hepatotoxicity in albino Rats / M.G. Souza, R. Singh, P.P. Reddy, V.I. Hukkeri & V.V. Byahatti / he Internet Journal of Alternative Medicine. 2007 Volume 4 Number 1

(7) Immunomodulatory and anticancer activities of flavonoids extracted from litchi (Litchi chinensis Sonn.) pericarp / Mouming Zhao, Bao Yang, Jinshui Wang, Yang Liu, Limei Yu, Yueming Jiang / International Immunopharmacology, Volume 7, Issue 2, February 2007, Pages 162–166

(8) Antiinflammatory effect of petroleum ether extract of leaves of Litchi chinensis Gaertn. (Sapindaceae) / S.E. Besra, R.M. Sharma, A. Gomes / Journal of Ethnopharmacology Volume 54, Issue 1, October 1996, Pages 1–6


South Africa.
– Reported scattered cultivation in Hawai, West Indies, Guatemala, and California.

– Majority are “water types” grown in low, well-irrigated land.
– Some leak juice when the skin is broken; some retain juice within the flesh. The latter is referred to as “dry-and-clean” and are highly prized.
– There is much variation in form (round, egg-shaped, or heart-shaped), skin color and texture, fragrance, flavor, and even color of the flesh, and more important, the size and form of the seed.
– Professor Groff, in his book The Lychee and the Lungan, lists 15 cultivars.
– In the Philippines, two cultivars are predominatly grown in the highlands: Mauritius, from South Africa, and Sinco, from China.

– Food value per 100 g of edible portion: calories 63-64 (fresh), 277 (dried); protein 0.68-1 g (f), 2.9-3.8 g (d), fat 0.3-0.58 g (f), 0.2-1.2g (d); carbohydrates 13.31-16.4g (f), 70.7-77.5 g (d); fiber 0.23-0.4g (f), 1.4g (d), calcium 8-10mg (f), 33 mg (d); potassium 170 mg (f), 1,100 mg (d); ascorbic acid 24-6- mg (f), 42 mg (d), among others.
– Study of semen litchi (seeds) yielded five chemical constituents. viz., stigmasterol, P-hydroxy- benzaldehyde, protocatechuic acid, daucosterol, and kaempferol-3-O-β-D-glucopyranoside.
– Study of pericarp extract yielded three flavonoids, viz., Epicatechin, proanthocyanidin B2 and proanthocyanidin B4.


– Considered antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-thrombotic.

Parts used
Fruit, seeds, bark, flowers.

Edibility / Culinary
– Fruit most relished fresh, out-of-hand; but often added to fruit cups and fruit salads, or stuffed with cream, nuts or other fruits.
– Also used for sherbet, gelatin, flavorin ham or grilling on top of meats.
– Canned in sugar syrup.
– In China, dried lychees eaten like raisins. Also, dried flesh used as sweetener of tea, in lieu of sugar.

– No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
– Elsewhere, used for common colds, asthma, stomach pains, hiccups, chronic diarrhea, headaches, anemia, menorrhagia, irritable bowels, testicular swellings.
– Reported to relieve coughing, especially when ingested in moderate amounts.
– Also reported beneficial effects on gastralgia, tumors, and gland enlargements.
– In China, seeds used for pain relief; used in neuralgia and orchitis. Tea of fruit peel is taken for smallpox eruptions and diarrhea.
– In India, powdered seeds are considered astringent and used for intestinal troubles; also used for neuralgic pains. Decoction of root, bark, and flowers are gargled to relieve throat ailments.

Study Findings
• Aldose Reductase / Diabetic Cataracts: Study of extracts of fruits and an EtOAc fraction showed potent inhibition of rat lens reductase in vitro. Aldose reductase has been reported to play an important role in sugar-iinduced cataract. From the EtOAc fration, delphinidin 3-O-beta- galactopyranoside-39-O-beta-glucopyranoside was one of four minor compounds identified, and was found to be the most potent of the inhibitors and may be useful in the prevention and/or treatment of diabetic complications.
• Hepatoprotective / Antioxidant / Anti-Apoptotivc: Study of fruit pulp extracts in rats intraperitoneally injected with CCl4. Antioxidant properties of the lychees extracts, as evidenced by the vitamin C and phenolic compounds, anti-lipid peroxidation and anti-apoptosis could explain the hepatoprotective effects in CC;4-induced hepatotoxicity.
• Antiplatelet / Anticoagulant / Fribrinolytic: Study of a 70% ethanol extract showed dose-dependent inhibition of collagen- and ADP-induced platelet aggregation in rat platelet-rich plasma. It also significantly prolonged coagulation times (PTT and PT). The antithrombotic effet sugget L. chinensis may be a natural source for developement of of antiplatelet, anticoagulant and thrombolytic therapeutics for thrombotic and cardiovascular diseases.
• Hepatoprotective: Study showed both alcoholic and aqueous extracts of fruit pulp of L. chinensis exhibited significant hepatoprotective activity in carbon tetrachloride induced hepatotoxicity. The aqueous extract was more effective than the alcoholic extract.
• Immunomodulatory / Anticancer: Study of litdhi pericarp extract isolated epicatechin, proanthocyanidin B2 and proanthocyanidin B4. All three showed higher stimulatory effects on splenocyte proliferatio than the reference, rutin. Epicatechin and proanthocyanidin B2 showed lower cytotoxicities to human breast cancer cell MCF-7 and human embryotic lung fibroblast than paclitaxel.
• Antimicrobial / Antioxidant: Study of methanol extract of stem-bark and its fractions yielded phenolic compounds, flavonoids and tannins. An aqueous-methanolic extract showed the highest total antioxidant activity and a maximum growth inhibition against Bacillus subtilis.
• Anti-Inflammatory / Toxicity Studies: Anima study of petroleum ether extract of leaves showed no toxicity up to up to 1 g/kg intraperitoneal dose. Results suggest it may inhibit the cyclooxygenase pathway of arachidonic acid metabolism.