The lychee has a history and cultivation going back as far as 2000 BC according to records in China. Cultivation began in the area of southern China, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Wild trees still grow in parts of southern China and on Hainan Island. There are many stories of the fruit's use as a delicacy in the Chinese Imperial Court. It was first described and introduced to the west in 1782.
Lychee Fruit when ripe
Lychee fruit does not ripen after picking, unlike other tropical fruits such as mangoes, avocadoes and bananas. If lychee fruit is picked early it is almost always bitter tasting and often leaves an unpleasant aftertaste. Do to our unique climate conditions South West Florida is the lychee growing capitol of the US and one of the only states where they can be successfully grown. Look for lychee fruits with a bright red, pebbly textured rind, which indicates that they are ripe and ready to pick.