Brewster Lychee Grow Guide

A Freshly Harvested Brewster Lychee
Image Credit: Sulcata Grove

Wake up and smell the roses – or better yet, the rose-scented Brewster Lychees! 🌹🌹🌹

With its juicy, sweet flesh and striking purplish-red skin, the Brewster Lychee is a treat for both your nose and taste buds. Sure, it has a large seed, but the flavor and scent totally make up for it. 😍

That said, this grow guide will cover everything that you need to know about Brewster Lychee:

Table of Contents

Brewster Lychee Tree Growth Habit & Fruit Production

The Brewster Lychee is considered a large-sized fruit tree

Brewster Lychees have a highly vigorous, upright and spreading growth habit that produces a lanky and spaced out canopy. As a result, Brewster Lychee Trees can realistically be kept between 20 – 30 feet with annual pruning. 

Due to the tree’s natural vigor, Brewster cannot be grown in a container over the long-term.

A large and mature Brewster Lychee Tree
Image Credit: Ryan Scion

Let’s now talk fruit production. 

For those new to growing lychees, lychee tree’s fruit production can vary wildly from year to year (that’s partially why they are so expensive!). So while it’s true that one can reasonably expect fruit every year, the overall yield is very cyclical i.e. good year, bad year, good year, bad year.

Brewster Lychee’s fruit production consistently ranges from irregular to very irregular. In other words, one can expect a Brewster Lychee Tree to produce reasonably well (have a ‘good year’) every 2 – 3 years. However, when Brewster does produce, it can provide a very good amount of fruit to homeowners.

A fruiting Brewster Lychee tree with several bagged clusters of fruit to protect from squirrels and birds
Image Credit: Sulcata Grove

Despite this somewhat erratic production schedule, Brewster remains the second most widely planted commercial cultivar in Florida.

That said, if consistent production is a top priority for you, then I would highly consider planting Mauritius, which is the top-producing commercial cultivar in Florida.

A large Brewster Lychee tree loaded with fruit
Image Credit: Naga Gardens

Finally, similar to Bengal and No Mai Tsze, Brewster is considered a ‘Water Type’ lychee.

In a nutshell, ‘Water Type’ lychee trees have:

  • Relatively larger canopies
  • Fruit with a smoother skin texture
  • Less cold tolerance
  • Less drought resistance
A large Brewster Lychee tree loaded with fruit
Image Credit: Naga Gardens

Brewster Lychee Flavor Profile

Brewster Lychees generally weigh between 15 – 25 grams per fruit.

Between the fruit’s smaller size, large seed and low probability of developing chicken tongue seeds, Brewster has a terrible flesh-to-seed ratio. You are definitely not getting as much fruit as an Emperor or Sweetheart.

Side Note: A “chicken tongue” seed in lychees refers to an underdeveloped or partially formed seed that is small, thin, and often shriveled, resembling a chicken’s tongue, which leaves more edible fruit flesh.

Several clusters of mature and ripe Brewster Lychees hanging on the tree
Image Credit: Sulcata Grove

Upon cracking open the smooth reddish-purple skin, one will find the large seed hogging most of the real estate! Honestly, the large seed alone is one of the main reasons why Brewster isn’t at the top of my lychee planting list.

But let’s move past the seed issue for a moment and talk about what really matters—the flavor.

A closeup of freshly harvested Brewster Lychees
Image Credit: Naga Gardens

Brewster Lychees have a fantastic flavor, boasting juicy flesh with a soft texture. The texture is somewhat akin to Kaimana, though not as velvety smooth as Sweetheart. The taste is straightforward, delivering pure sweetness without any complex undertones.

However, what truly sets Brewster apart is its intense lychee-rose scent and flavor.

A Freshly Harvested Brewster Lychee
Image Credit: Sulcata Grove

And while the rose aroma isn’t as pronounced as what one would expect from Bengal or even No Mai Tsze, it’s still a major highlight. For me, the fragrance is 50% of the eating experience, and Brewster tops the charts here.

For these reasons, I believe that Brewster trumps other commercial varieties like Mauritius. While Mauritius is undeniably delicious too, it falls slightly short in sweetness and lacks that signature lychee-rose scent.

3 Mature and Ripe Brewster Lychees. One of which is peeled to reveal the inner fruit.
Image Credit: Sulcata Grove

Plus, if you pick Mauritius a tad early, you’ll encounter a tartness that Brewster doesn’t have. And while this isn’t a bad thing per se (my wife loves them!), it’s just another thing to consider in order to get a consistent flavor profile.

Given a side-by-side taste test of a perfectly ripe Brewster vs Mauritius (a rare occurrence due to different ripening times), I believe most lychee aficionados would crown Brewster as superior. Furthermore, while Emperor offers an overall better flesh-to-seed ratio and delicious flavor, I still end up favoring Brewster for its robust aroma.

So if you’re a fan of rose-scented lychees, Brewster might just be your new favorite from a flavor perspective (even despite the larger seed!).

Two Brewster Lychees cut in half to show the seed and inner fruit
Image Credit: Sulcata Grove

Brewster Lychee Season (And When To Pick)

Brewster Lychees are considered a mid-season fruit, typically harvested from Mid-June to Early-July.

In both central and south Florida, Brewster tends to ripen alongside Kaimana.

If you are looking for an earlier season lychee, I suggest looking into Mauritius, Sweetheart and Hak Ip. On the other hand, Emperor is usually the last to mature, rounding out the season. This ripening sequence is consistent in both central and south Florida.

Several clusters of Brewster Lychee hanging on the tree
Image Credit: Naga Gardens

In terms of what to look for to determine whether the fruit is ready to be picked, Brewster Lychees are best picked when the majority of the fruit is a deep reddish-purple. This will give you the sweetest fruit!

Additionally, do not harvest the fruit when they are half red and half green. This will make the fruit taste very tangy/sour!

A box full of freshly harvested Brewster Lychees
Image Credit: Serendib Farms

Similar to avocados, I like to harvest one or two small clusters at a time and taste the fruit. If the fruit doesn’t taste as it should, then I’ll give the rest of the fruit some more time to ripen properly on the tree.

When harvesting, cut the main stem bearing the fruit clusters several inches behind the clusters. You can either detach the fruit from the clusters before storage or leave them on.

Two plates of freshly harvested and ripe Brewster Lychees
Image Credit: Naga Gardens

Brewster Lychee Disease Resistance

The main disease that impacts lychee fruit production is anthracnose. According to the University of Florida, Brewster Lychee’s susceptibility rating to anthracnose is ‘Resistant’.

That said, I would still generally avoid planting Brewster in areas with very humid conditions. 

Additionally, practices such as ensuring good air circulation around the tree via proper pruning and avoiding overhead watering can reduce the risk of an anthracnose infection.

A box full of Brewster Lychees
Image Credit: Abi-Gail Sinanan

Brewster Lychee Tree For Sale

Because Brewster is a well-established and popular variety, they are typically found for sale at most local garden nurseries. Even if they aren’t in stock, most nurseries can procure them relatively quickly!

Conclusion

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If you have any questions regarding anything mentioned in this grow guide, please comment them below! This way, others can also benefit from the answer to the same question. For any other questions or growing tips that you think may be helpful, feel free to use the contact form and drop me a line.

Thank you for reading! 🙂

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Matthew Rowlings

I have an Associates Degree in Biology from the University of Florida and am also an active Florida Master Gardener. I am located in Central Florida (Zone 10A) and have 6+ years of experience with growing 20+ types of tropical trees. You can learn more about me and why I started Tropical Tree Guide on my about page.

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