Longan is a small, round fruit with a thin brown shell. Its flesh is soft, white, juicy, and surrounds one large black seed. Used as a snack, in oriental soups, desserts, and some sweet-and-sour dishes.
Dimocarpus longan, commonly known as the longan is a tropical tree that produces edible fruit. It is one of the better known tropical members of the soapberry family to which the lychee also belongs. It is native to the Indomalaya ecozone defined by South Asia and Southeast Asia.
The fruit is sweet, juicy and succulent in superior agricultural varieties and, apart from being eaten fresh, is also often used in East Asian soups, snacks, desserts, and sweet-and-sour foods, either fresh or dried, sometimes canned with syrup in supermarkets. The taste is different from lychees; while longan have a drier sweetness, lychees are often messily juicy with a more tropical, sour sweetness.
The seed and the shell are not consumed.
Dried longan, called guìyuán (桂圆) in Chinese, are often used in Chinese cuisine and Chinese sweet dessert soups. In Chinese food therapy and herbal medicine, it is believed to have an effect on relaxation. In contrast with the fresh fruit, which is juicy and white, the flesh of dried longans is dark brown to almost black. In Chinese medicine, the longan, much like the lychee, is thought to give internal “heat” (上火).