Rambutan Vs. Lychee: Fruit, Smell, Taste, and More

Rambutan Vs. Lychee

Rambutan, Lychee, Longan, etc., are some of the exotic fruits loved and eaten around different regions of the world. These fruits have a soft appearance and refreshing taste that is cherished by most fruit-lovers. However, there are many differences between these fruits.

This article will discuss the two fruits of the same family: Rambutan and Lychee. The often-confused with each other, both of these fruits have their joys and bring unique value in their own ways.

Therefore, we will be decoding everything about Rambutan and Lychee. Besides, we will also look into how these fruits differ so that you don’t get confused between the two next time.

Rambutan And Lychee

Rambutan and Lychee are both tropical fruits in Asia, specifically Southeast Asia. Both fruits are often pronounced as cousin fruits. These fruits are called cousins because of their same family of Sapindaceae(soapberries). The reason behind this is their appearance, origin, and to some extent, their taste and feel.

If we sum up the similarities of both fruits, you will find that they’re similar to each other in the following traits:

  • Appearance and texture of fruits
  • Same color
  • Inside meat is similar
  • Seed is present in the center for both fruits

And other such similarities make people confused about whether they’re having Rambutan or Lychee until the fleshy tender fruit goes into their mouth and brings a unique flavor associated with each fruit.

We will decode each fruit’s characteristics and everything you must know about Rambutan and Lychee. So let’s get into it.  


Let’s talk about other facts about Rambutan. Rambutan’s scientific name is Nephelium Lappaceum L. and belongs to the soapberries family. Rambutan is a word of Malay, it means hairy, and it relates to the appearance of the fruit.

The common name of the fruit is local to its place of origin; Southeast Asia. If you move to the region of Vietnam, the Rambutan fruit is called chôm chôm, and it means messy hair.

Origin & Geography

If we specifically talk about the origin of Rambutan, it belongs to the Southeast Asian region. The genetic diversity and origin of the fruit go back to the Southeast Asian region around Malaysia and Indonesia.

Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Srilanka, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines have been the home to Rambutan. The fruit was cultivated and introduced in the remaining world from there.

Arab traders introduced the fruit to India, East Africa, and the Indian ocean between the 13th and 15th centuries. The fruit was introduced to Dutch colonies in South America during the 19th century. Rambutan was also introduced in the United States, but it wasn’t successful in cultivation except for Puerto Rico.

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Description Of Plant

Rambutan is an evergreen tree that grows throughout the year. The leaves of Rambutan are around 14-30 cm long, having three to eleven leaflets, and each leaflet is around 5-15 cm in width. The height of the Rambutan tree can range between 15 to 20 meters.

The fruit of Rambutan is usually round in shape, or it might fall anywhere between round to oval. As the name suggests, the physical appearance of the fruit is reddish leathery skin covered with fleshy spines. The fruit is single-seeded and grows in clusters with 10-20 fruits.

Inside the shell, the fleshy and tender fruit having a whitish or pale pink color lies. The seed inside the fruit is glossy brown, having a 1 to 1.3 cm diameter.


Rambutan fruit has its origin in tropical areas. Therefore, it is cultivated in tropical regions of Southeast Asia. Around the globe, the farming of Rambutan is done in Costa Rica, Mexico, Africa, India, Panama, Philippines, Vietnam, Srilanka, and Caribbean Islands.

The largest commercial producers of Rambutan are Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and surrounding areas.


Rambutan fruit has a lot of health benefits and nutrients packed in the fleshy tender fruit. You can get fair amounts of Vitamin B5 from Rambutan, and Vitamin B5 helps break down food to convert it into energy.

You also get a lot of other nutrients and vitamins like Vitamin A, C, B & Potassium, Choline, Folates, and Calcium.

By having a medium-sized Rambutan fruit, the amount of energy you get equates to:

No. Of Calories: 7 Calories

Fat: < 1g

Protein: < 1g

Carbohydrates: 2 g

Fiber: < 1g

Sugar: < 1g

Smell & Taste

When peeled off, the hairy and furry fruit looks like a large skinless grape. A ripe Rambutan smells like pineapple, and its taste is a mix of sour and sweet. A Rambutan you eat might be very sweet sometimes. You might get a sour taste when eating the tropical fruit at other times.

How to eat?

Eating fruits is usually the same, but you should make sure to eat Rambutan safely. The fleshy fruit inside the Rambutan shell is safe to eat. But you must take care to peel off the skin and avoid eating the seed.

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The reason is that both the outer shell and inner seed contain toxic substances that are not safe to consume. So it’s pretty simple to eat Rambutan.

Once peeled off, you can add Rambutan in several dishes to consume in your diet. Some examples include ice creams, salads, smoothies, frozen rambutans in cocktails, etc.

Health Benefits:

Here is a list of the most popular health benefits associated with the use of Rambutan:

  • Vitamin C present in the fruit is an antioxidant. Therefore, it reduces the risk of cancer.
  • Rambutan fruit is very helpful in supporting the immune system.
  • Your gut health and digestion are also improved by eating Rambutan due to the dietary fiber present in the fruit. These fibers feed the good bacteria in your gut and support digestion functions.


Lychee’s scientific name is Litchi Chinensis, and it is a monoecious tree. Lychee also belongs to the family of soapberries or Sapindaceae. The ripe red color of the fruit from the outside is associated with good fortune in China. Besides, the fruit is also related to romance, beauty, and good luck.

Origin & Geography

Litchi Chinensis or Lychee belongs to China, and this tropical fruit has been growing in Chinese lands for over 3000 years. If we dug into the origin of the fruit, it grew in Southeast China and Northern Vietnam. The trees can still be found in both regions.

The tropical plant abundantly grows in Guangdong and Fujian provinces of China. After its advent in other parts of the world, the other regions of Southeast Asia are also cultivating the tree at a commercial level.

Taiwan, Vietnam, the Indian sub-continent, and the tropical regions of Southeast Asia are among the top producers of the Lychee.

Before the 1700s, the fruit was not introduced or popular among the outer world. The international voyage of Lychee started with its introduction in the Caribbean, Europe, and India.


Lychee, just like Rambutan, is an evergreen tree not taller than 15m. However, in rare cases, the length of the tree can be as long as 28 meters. If we talk about the leaf structures of the plant, the leaves are pinnate and are 5 to 8 inches long.

They have abruptly pointed leaflets, brownish-red branches, and greyish black bark. Leaves of the Lychee plant are water-repellant and called Laurophyll or lauroid leaves.

The Lychee fruit matures in 80 to 112 days if we look at the fruit. It is similar to Rambutan in appearance when peeled off. The fleshy fruit ranges from round to oval to heart-shaped in its appearance.

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The fruit size is usually 4 X 5 cm and weighs around 20 g. The ripened Lychee has outer skin ranging from red to dark pink. However, immature Lychee is green in color from the outside.


Fresh lychee fruit contains many nutrients and is also a good source of Vitamin C, Copper, Potassium, and other minerals. A 100-gram fruit serving of Lychee contains the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 66 calories
  • Carbohydrates: 16.5 g
  • Fiber: 1.3 g
  • Sugar: 15.2 g
  • Protein: 0.8 g
  • Fat: 0.4 g

Taste & Smell

The smell of Lychee is close to juicy grapes, and the lychee flavors have a scent profile of fresh citrus fruit. The taste of Lychee fruit is sweet and aromatic.

The fruit has a slight hint of sourness, but the fully ripened fruit is usually very sweet in taste. The tropical fruit has a combo of sweet and tart on a balanced note.

How to eat?

Lychee fruit is also eaten like the Rambutan. The hard outer shell is peeled off with fingers. The seed has to be separated from the tender and fleshy fruit. After doing so, you can enjoy the unique taste of Lychee to treat your taste buds.

You can do a lot with Lychee by using it in Salads, cocktails, salad dressing, combined with cottage cheese, and a lot more combinations can be tried out.

Health Benefits Of Lychee

Lychee fruit is also associated with different benefits due to the presence of various minerals and vitamins. The most claimed benefits of the fruit are as follow:

  • Reduces the risk of stroke
  • Lowers down the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks
  • Also, prevent some types of cancer.
  • Has antioxidant properties due to the presence of Vitamin C
  • Good for liver health.

Comparison Of Rambutan And Lychee

We have discussed almost everything about both exotic fruits: Rambutan and Lychee. The differences between the two fruits can be summarized as follows:

Rambutan has electronic orange and green hairs on the outer skin.Lychee is similar in appearance but doesn’t contain the hairy spikes as of Rambutan.
The size Rambutan is as large as a golf ball.Lychee looks like a large grape, and it is much smaller in size than Rambutan.
The taste of Rambutan is creamy and aromatic. It has a resemblance with dragon fruit in its taste.Lychee is also fleshy like Rambutan, but the fruit is crispier and tastes more like watermelon.
Rambutan originated from the Southeast Asian country of Thailand.Although both fruits are native to Southeast Asia Lychee belongs to Chinese region.


To conclude, Rambutan and Lychee are both native to Southeast Asia and give the world some of the most exotic flavors and tender feeling of eating the fleshy fruit.

Rambutan and Lychee are improvised in many dishes, cocktails, drinks, and beverages around the world. However, after reading this post, you will be able to differentiate between the two fruits and enjoy the distinct tastes of each fruit.