6 Reasons Why Lychee Trees are a Good
Replacement for Removed Citrus Trees
By Bill Mee & Krystal Folino
Many people have lost cherished citrus trees to the State of Florida's aggressive citrus canker eradication program. Lychee trees are great as a replacement or alternative for your citrus.
1. Lychee Trees are Easy to Grow in South Florida:
South Florida has the best lychee growing climate in the country and is the lychee capital of the US. They are wonderful selections as an evergreen hardwood specimen tree or shade tree and make an excellent addition to any landscape. With pruning, lychees can be kept to 10 - 15 feet tall. They require very little other than full sun, some level of wind protection and regular mulching and composting around the tree(s). It is not necessary to spray insecticides as lychee tree(s) have few major pests in our area. Since lychees are not in the same family as citrus, they are not susceptible to the common diseases that plague citrus trees such as canker.
2. Lychee Fruit is Delicious and Nutritious:
In consumer surveys 9 out of 10 people who try a lychee fruit consider them delicious and would gladly eat them again. The lychee fruit is about 1 to 1½ inches in size, oval to rounded heart shaped and the bumpy skin is red in color. Once you peel the skin off, the crisp juicy flesh of a lychee fruit is white or pinkish, translucent and glossy like the consistency of a grape, but the taste is sweeter. Lychees have a sub acid sweet taste and have a wonderful freshness and unique fragrance to them that is hard to describe. Lychee fruit is high in the antioxidant Vitamin C and the essential mineral Potassium and very hydrating.
3. Lychees Have a Long Lifespan:
Lychee trees do not have a fixed lifespan. The original Brewster lychee grove, planted by the late Reverend William Brewster over 100 years ago still stands along Davie Extension Road, just south of Griffin Road. There are a few lychee trees in Southern China that are over 1000 years old. On the other hand citrus trees have an effective fruit bearing lifespan of between 25 - 30 years and tend to decline over time as a result of a multitude of diseases and pests.
4. You can Grow Lychees Organically Using Natural Fertilizers:
Lychee trees thrive when grown organically. This means that you can maintain the health of your tree through the use of mulch and yard compost. Mulch is very plentiful in South Florida because of our long growing season. Besides the ready availability of mulch it is also free for the taking since landscape companies must get rid of it and many municipalities offer it free to homeowners.
Mulch should be spread around the tree out past the drip line to a thickness of at least 6 or more inches. Keep a compost pile in your yard and regularly mix the composted material into the mulch around your lychee. Organic practices such as mulching and composting support a healthy soil food web of beneficial soil organisms, which in turn translates into a healthy environment for your tree.
5. Lychees Originated in and are Highly Prized in the World's Most Populous Country - China:
Lychees are one of the most important tropical fruits in the world outside of the US, especially in Pan Asian countries, such as China, India, Taiwan and portions of Southeast Asia. Lychees originated in South China, where they have a planting history of over 2000 years and are a revered delicacy. Within Chinese culture the lychee is considered a symbol of romance and love, coveted by emperors and royalty and written about by authors, historians and poets throughout Chinese history.
6. State of Florida and Broward County Recommends the Lychee:
The Florida Department of Agriculture and IFAS( University of Florida Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences) recommends the lychee as a dooryard fruit tree for South Florida.
There is a landmark lychee tree planted in front of the SE 3rd Avenue entrance to the Broward County Courthouse. When the courthouse was remodeled significant efforts were made to leave this tree in it's original place. The Broward County property Appraisers Office sponsors an annual auction of the fruit from this famous tree for charity purposes.
The Broward League of Cities recommends and sometimes offers lychee trees to homeowners who had citrus trees removed during the citrus canker eradication effort.
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