Sunday, June 29, 2008
Euphoria Fruit (Longan)
Longan is known in Chinese as long yan gou. This fruit has three botanical names: Euphoria longan, Longan aril, and Arillus longan. All of them refer to dragon eye fruit, another common name for this fruit that grows on trees that reach heights of 35 feet or more. The tree is an evergreen, the fruit abundant, and it is light brown when ripe. Longans grow in bunches, as many as a dozen hanging down from a small central twig. They ripen in summer and they provide moderately juicy translucent flesh. There is one pit, dark brown in color, in each longan fruit.
How to grow
Longan is a subtropical tree well adapted to tropical climates with distinctive wet/dry periods and subtropical areas with a cool, nonfreezing fall/winter period. Longans are indigenous to lowland and middle elevations in southeast Asia and grow at elevations from sea level to 1500 feet. Longan is tolerant of dry soil conditions. The longan thrives best on a rich sandy loam and nearly as well on moderately acid, somewhat organic, sand. It also grows to a large size and bears heavily in oolitic limestone. In organic muck soils, blooming and fruiting are deficient.
The longan's range in Florida extends north to Tampa on the west coast and to Merritt Island on the east coast. Still, small trees suffer leaf-and twig-damage if the temperature falls to 31º or 30º F (-0.56º--l.11º C) and are killed at just a few degrees lower. Larger trees show leaf injury at 27º to 28º F (-2.78º--2.22º C), small branch injury at 25º to 26º F (-3-89º--3.33º C), large branch and trunk symptoms at 24º F (-4.44º C) and sometimes fail to recover. The longan is relatively free of pests and diseases
Season of bearing: The main bloom season for longans in south Florida is from February/March through April and the beginning of May. However, some cultivars will produce off-season blooms after the crop is harvested in late August and September. The off-season crop matures in the fall.
Nutrition & Benefit
Euphoria contains several vitamins and minerals, including iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium, and large amounts of vitamins A and C. A recent study on euphoria fruit also identified and quantified phenolic compounds in the fruit, such as gallic acid, corilagin, and ellagic acid, indicating that the fruit may have antioxidant, chemo-preventive, and liver protective properties.