Nephelium hypoleucum - Wild korlan fruits harvested in An Giang province

Nephelium hypoleucum – The Wild Lychee

Nephelium hypoleucum is a tree in the family Sapindaceae (the soapberry trees), native to Indo-China to Peninsula Malaysia. N. hypoleucum is often referred as korlan based on the Laotian/Thai name. In Vietnamese, it’s called trường.

Nephelium hypoleucum - Korlan fruits sold in Vietnam
Korlan fruits (Nephelium hypoleucum) sold in Vietnam
  • Family: Sapindaceae
  • Genus: Nephelium
  • Species: Nephelium hypoleucum
  • English name: korlan
  • Vietnamese name: trường

The N. hypoleucum fruit is very similar to a lychee (Litchi chinensis) which also belongs to the family Sapindaceae , so it’s regarded as a wild lychee by local people.

Nephelium hypoleucum -Wild korlan fruits harvested in An Giang province
Wild korlan fruits harvested in An Giang province

N. hypoleucum is often mistaken for Xerospermum noronhianum, which is also nicknamed as “wild lychee”. And of course, it’s can be confused with various Nephelium trees.

Korlan fruits in Tay Ninh province
Korlan fruits in Tay Ninh province

Uses

In Vietnam, N. hypoleucum occurs in the wild, especially in mountainous areas in southern Vietnam such as Tây Ninh or An Giang provinces. Unlike lychee or rambutan trees, the korlan trees are not commercially cultivated. Wild korlan fruits are gathered and sold in small quantities.

Korlan fruits marinated in chili and salt
Korlan fruits marinated in chili and salt

Korlan fruits are sour, with a little sweet aftertaste. In Vietnam, they can be eaten as is, or with a condiment of salt and chili pepper as a rustic fruit snack. Another condiment is fish sauce with sugar: In a bowl of fish sauce, add sugar to get dissolved, and then add the peeled korlan fruits into the bowl.

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