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 (Sapindaceae), to which the lychee also belongs.
The longan (dragon eye), is so named because it resembles an eyeball when its fruit is shelled (the black seed shows through the translucent flesh like a pupil/iris). The seed is small, round and hard, and of an enamel-like, lacquered black. The fully ripened, freshly harvested fruit has a bark-like shell, thin, and firm, making the fruit easy to peel by squeezing the pulp out as if one is “cracking” a sunflower seed. When the shell has more moisture content and is more tender, the fruit becomes less convenient to shell. The tenderness of the shell varies due to either premature harvest, variety, weather conditions, or transport/storage conditions.
In traditional Chinese medicine, longan fruit are used as a tonic for the heart, to improve eye function, relieve stress and give skin the glow. Women hoping to beautify and boost their sex drive might find this fruit the perfect tonic. As for standard nutritional qualifications, longan fruit’s got that too: iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium can be found in the fruit, as well as vitamins A and C. Recent studies have also identified gallic acid, corilagin and ellagic acid in the fruit, which may bolster the fruit’s reputation as a health-boosting superfruit.