are indigenous to China where they have a been in cultivation for over
2,000 years. Today they are grown on every continent except Antarctica,
and they are famed as the "King of Fruits." Despite worldwide
distribution they remain one of China's best kept secrets.
The trees were first introduced to Florida in the 1930's, and the original
grove is still in production in Avon Park. Today, commercial production
is concentrated in an agricultural district southwest of Miami called
the Redlands. Even though there is more than seven hundred and fifty acres
of commercial production, the fruit is known to less than one percent
of Americans. This is primarily due to the short period of time which
the fresh fruit is available and its frustratingly short shelf life. In
South Florida the lychee season is from late May to early July, and at
this time they can be found in ethnic markets and gourmet restaurants
throughout the country.
those entirely unfamiliar with the fruit they may appear bizarre and
the name slightly unappealing. Often compared to eyeballs in appearance
and mispronounced as a swamp dwelling bloodsucker, the delicious treasures
don't always make good first impressions among Westerners. However,
the flavor is as exquisite as it is unique. The pulp is aromatic, sweet
to sub-acid, separates easily from the seed and outer shell, and is
unlike anything else on earth. They are as addictive as they are elusive,
and the lychee can quickly become an expensive habit.