Introduction. The litchi tree produces fruit in terminal panicles in a
development cycle of approximately 4 months. Data on its morphology and anatomy are
scarce, although the fruit is of fundamental importance in the Sapindaceae systematic.
This work was carried out to study fruit morphology and pericarp anatomy during the
development of the cv. Brewster litchi. Materials and methods. Fruits were collected
at different development phases on 12-year-old trees. The fruits were morphologically
and anatomically studied. After fixation, the samples were sectioned in several
anatomical planes, and mounted in temporary or permanent preparations. Results.
The flowers were functionally male and female, with a superior bicarpelar ovary with
two ovules, rarely three. Frequently, only a single fruit develops. The fruit is a
heart-shaped drupe when ripe, fleshy and indehiscent. The pericarp is thin, leathery,
rough, wrinkled and red colored, with aril covering all the seed. The fruit begins
differentiation with the formation of the pericarp which consists of epicarp,
mesocarp and endocarp. Discussion. The litchi fruit is elongated when young,
becoming heart-shaped as it develops. It contains one or two seeds and each one is
attached to the internal angle of the marginal sutures. When ripe, the litchi has a
leathery and broken pericarp because of the presence of brachisclereides immediately
below the epidermis, whose function may be protection against mechanical and physiological
stresses and herbivorous action.