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The lychee (Litchi chinensis) is the sole member of the genus Litchi in the soapberry family, Sapindaceae. It is a tropical and subtropical fruit tree native to southern China, Taiwan and Southeast Asia, and now cultivated in many parts of the world. The fresh fruit has a "delicate, whitish pulp" with a "perfume" flavor. Since this perfumy flavor is lost in canning, the fruit is usually eaten fresh.[2]  
An evergreen tree reaching 10–28 meters tall, the lychee bears fleshy fruits that are up to 5 cm (2.0 in) long and 4 cm (1.6 in) wide. The outside of the fruit is covered by a pink-red, roughly textured rind that is inedible but easily removed to expose a layer of sweet, translucent white flesh. Lychees are eaten in many different dessert dishes, and are especially popular in China, throughout Southeast Asia, along with South Asia and India.[2][3]
The lychee is cultivated in China, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Bangladesh and northern India (in particular Muzaffarpur Bihar, which accounts for 75% of total Indian production).[2][4] South Africa and the United States (Hawaii and Florida) also have commercial lychee production.[2]
The lychee has a history of 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.[1]
Litchi chinensis was described and named by French naturalist Pierre Sonnerat in his Voyage aux Indes orientales et à la Chine, fait depuis 1774 jusqu'à 1781 (1782). There are three subspecies, determined by flower arrangement, twig thickness, fruit, and number of stamens.  
Litchi chinensis subsp. chinensis is the only commercialized lychee. It grows wild in southern China, Bangladesh northern Vietnam, and Cambodia. It has thin twigs, flowers typically have six stamens, fruit are smooth or with protuberances up to 2 mm.
Litchi chinensis subsp. philippinensis (Radlk.) Leenh. It is common in the wild in Philippines and Papua New Guinea and rarely cultivated. It has thin twigs, six to seven stamens, long oval fruit with spiky protuberances up to 3 mm.
Litchi chinensis subsp. javensis. It is only known in cultivation, in Malaysia and Indonesia. It has thick twigs, flowers with seven to eleven stamens in sessile clusters, smooth fruit with protuberances up to 1 mm.[5]  


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