Longan is a pulp fruit that is a popular favorite as snacks.
The fruit comes in a bunch sort of like grapes. Each fruit is about the size of a marble, with white semi-transparent pulpy flesh covering a single black seed.
Wrapped around a brown shell, the shell can be easily cracked for one to get to the sweet fleshy pulp.
Longan goes by the Chinese name long yan (龍眼) which literally means dragon eye.
One look at this fruit without the shell and one should be able to tell the link between it and the name dragon eye. You don’t need a supercharged imagination to find it’s resemblance to an eye.
Homeowners who have the outdoor space to build their own gardens sometimes create a wavy green hedge with a longan tree at the head. This is usually a play at erecting the shape of a green dragon with the longans as it’s eyes.
While it can be as tasty as any oriental dessert you’ve ever tasted, TCM practitioners do advise against over-consumption as it is considered a very “heaty” food item.
The longan fruit’s symbolism is mostly linked to fertility luck. Which is why fruit baskets often contain it when presented as gifts to young married couples.
Lychees and longans were traditionally placed under the bed of newlyweds for fertility luck.
However it can also sometimes be used in art as a replacement for osmanthus due to it’s alias sounding the same as the Chinese name for the aromatic flower.
When longan appears as one of 3 rounded food items, it is most probably a reference to a wish for success in the 3 civil examinations. A common trio for this arrangement consist of longan, lychee and walnut. The walnut is sometimes replaced by the plum fruit.
Paired with date fruit, it symbolizes the wish for offspring who will go on to become high ranking officials in a government capacity.