Closely allied to the lychee, the longan has been referred to as the ‘little brother of the lychee’. Longan is slightly smaller than lychee, and with a dull brown skin which is smoother than that of the lychee.
The fruit grows in drooping clusters. Fruit is globose, 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter, with thin, brittle, yellow-brown to light reddish-brown rind. The flesh is whitish, translucent, somewhat musky, sweet, but not as sweet as that of the lychee and with less “bouquet”. The seed is round, jet-black, shining, with a circular white spot at the base, giving it the aspect of an eye.
Health Benefits of Longan:
- Longan is used as remedy for stomach ache, insomnia, amnesia, and dropsy.
- The fruit is said to invigorate the heart and spleen, nourish the blood and have a calming effect on the nervous system.
- A spoonful of longan tonic made of equal quantities of longan flesh and sugar simmered in water till it is reduced to a syrup consistency is recommended twice a day.
- A decoction of the dried flesh is taken as a tonic and treatment for insomnia and neurasthenic neurosis.
- In Vietnam, the “eye” of the longan seed is pressed against snakebite in the belief that it will absorb the venom.
- The seeds are administered to counteract heavy sweating, the pulverized kernel, which contains saponin, tannin and fat, serves as a styptic (substance that draws together or constricts body tissues and is effective in stopping the flow of blood or other secretions).