The Lychee (Litchi chinensis), also spelled Litchi, Laichi, Lizhi and Lichu is the sole member of the genus Litchi in the soapberry family Sapindaceae. It is a tropical fruit tree native to southern China. It is also commonly found in Madagascar, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, southern Taiwan, northern Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Southern Africa.
The fruit is a drupe, 3–4 cm long. The outside is covered by a pink-red, roughly-textured rind that is inedible but easily removed. The inside consists of a layer of sweet, translucent white flesh, rich in vitamin C, with a texture somewhat similar to that of a grape. The center contains a single glossy brown nut-like seed.
There are many different cultivars of lychee, some of them have light red shell with very sharp edges, some have skin dark red in colour but not so sharp, there are also lychees with dark green spots. Some variations of lychee can be also seedless.
Lychees are most relished fresh, out-of-hand. Peeled and pitted, they are commonly added to fruit salads. Freshly picked lychees keep their color and quality only 3 to 5 days at room temperature. The red rind turns dark brown when the fruit is refrigerated, but the taste is not affected. Lychees can be also dried together with skin. The skin loses its original color, becomes cinnamon-brown, and turns brittle. The flesh turns dark-brown to nearly black as it shrivels and becomes very much like a raisin. Dried fruits can be stored in tins at room temperature for about a year with no change in texture or flavor. Lychees are also sold tinned in sugar syrup.