If you are familiar with both Lychee and Rambutan you will know that they have a few things in common, however, there are also a few differences. We are going to discuss both the similarities and differences along with a showdown between the two fruits. But first, let’s answer the question: Are Rambutan and Lychee the same? By the way, sometimes Lychee is also called Litchi as in its Genus name or biological name, Litchi chinensis. But they are one and the same. So, we could also ask: Are Litchi and Rambutan the same?
Lychee (Litchi Chinensis) and Rambutan are not the same. They are closely related, both being of the Sapindaceae family. They are similar in appearance, being of the same size with a red outer skin and white juicy flesh that is sweet, and both growing on trees. But the taste and smell are different. Lychee has a stronger taste than Rambutan.
We will discuss in this article, along with pictures and illustrations and tables:
- Similarities Between Rambutan and Lychee
- Rambutan & Lychee Differences
- Rambutan vs Lychee. Which is better?
We found out that the Sapindaceae are a family of flowering plants also known as the soapberry family. Well, soapberry has the word ‘soap’ in it and this may well be due to the fact that the Saponins extracted from the drupe (or seed) of these species are very effective surfactants and are thus used in cosmetics and detergents.
Take a look at the table below showing the classifications of both the Rambutan and the Lychee. You will see that they belong to the same family.
|Species:||N. lappaceum||L. chinensis|
|Binomial name||Nephelium lappaceum||Litchi chinensis|
Rambutan & Lychee (Litchi) Similarities
The main similarities appear to be the look of the two fruits. Both have a white juicy flesh with a red skin exterior and a seed in the middle. It’s best not to eat the rambutan seed raw as it is bitter and can be toxic, although if you happen to accidentally eat one or two it shouldn’t do you any harm. Acute toxicity is a dose above 2500mg/kg.
Both Rambutan and Lychee grow abundantly on trees in tropical climates. The Lychee will grow in pairs whereas the Rambutan fruit will grow singularly.
It’s interesting to note that the Rambutan we bought had a lot of ants on the surface of the fruit. It’s ok as they cannot enter the skin to get to the juicy flesh. You just either tap or knock the fruit to get rid of them or wash the outside of the fruit with water to get rid of them.
Both of the fruits are around the same size.
Rambutan & Lychee Differences
One of the first differences you will notice is that the Rambutan has soft ‘hairs’ protruding from the skin. In fact, the word Rambutan comes from the Malay word rambut which means “hair”, Whereas the Lychee has a rough ‘hairless’ thin skin.
Both fruits require similar methods when opening. Cutting into the skin using a knife or your fingernail, you break the skin open and squeeze out the white fruit. You can then proceed to eating the white flesh being careful to spit out the seed.
You will notice the texture, colour and juiciness of the fruits as being similar, however, the taste and smell are quite different.
Rambutan has a sweet juicy taste. Some say that the taste is sweet, sour like a grape. But maybe it is the variety they were eating. When I was in the Philippines the Rambutan I tasted were always sweet as evidenced by the number of ants on the skin of the fruit. Ants love sweet and Rambutan are sweet.
Lychee is also juicy and full of water and also have a sweet taste. Some people say it tastes more like a watermelon or a pear. But the taste is definitely delicious and sweet.
Some say the smell and texture of Lychee are like a grape, others say the smell is a little like honeysuckle. Either way, the smell is lovely and pleasant.
From what we have gathered the texture of the rambutan and lychee is similar but the tastes are different. The taste of Lychee is much stronger than Rambutan.
So, know it comes down to the battle between the two. Rambutan vs Lychee. Which is best? To answer this question, we will look at the price, flavour, and nutrition.
Rambutan vs Lychee
First, let’s compare prices.
Rambutan appears to be a little more expensive than lychee fruit. Of course, a lot will depend on the area you live in. If you are living in a tropical country like the Philippines and especially Davao then Rambutan is going to be a lot cheaper than if you are living in the United States. But overall, we found that imported Rambutan and Lychee are around the same price. In the native country then it’s a little different. Rambutan can be a little more expensive.
For the flavour, both are a sweet taste but Lychee has a stronger flavour than the Rambutan. I personally prefer the taste of Rambutan. In fact, I might be a little biased as Rambutan quickly became one of my favourite fruit snacks with its sweet and juicy taste. No need to grab a bottle of water as you will get all the hydration you need from eating a few handfuls of these delightful fruits.
Lastly, let’s compare the nutrition of the two fruits.
Nutritional Comparison Between Rambutan and Lychee
|Name||Rambutan (Amount)||Lychee (Amount)|
|Energy||343 kj||276 kj|
|Carbohydrate||20.87 g||16.53 g|
|Protein||0.65 g||0.83 g|
|Fat||0.21 g||0.44 g|
|Zinc||0.08 mg||0.07 mg|
|Sodium||11 mg||1 mg|
|Potassium||42 mg||171 mg|
|Phosphorous||9 mg||31 mg|
|Manganese||0.343 mg||0.055 mg|
|Magnesium||7 mg||10 mg|
|Iron||0.35 mg||0.13 mg|
|Calcium||22 mg||5 mg|
|Vitamin C||4.9 mg (30 mg with raw)||71.5 mg|
|Folate (B9)||8 μg||14 μg|
|Vitamin B6||0.02 mg||0.1 mg|
|Niacin (B3)||1.352 mg||0.603 mg|
|Riboflavin (B2)||0.022 mg||0.065 mg|
|Thiamine (B1)||0.013 mg||0.011 mg|
|Water||78.04 g||81.8 g|
Although Lychee appears to be the winner for nutrition you must understand that the comparison is between raw lychee and canned syrup rambutan. I feel that raw rambutan would have come out a lot closer to lychee if it was also raw. Certainly, its vitamin C content would have been a lot higher. We have since found out that 100 grams of raw rambutan has 30 mg of Vitamin C.
As would be expected the main constituent of both is water.
Are Rambutan & Lychee Related?
Rambutan and Lychee are related belonging to the Sapindaceae family.
Other names for Lychee
Lychee is also known by the names lichi, lichee, laichi, and leechee
Other Uses For Lychee and Rambutan
Lychee: Taken in small amounts, lychee is said to relieve coughing and to have a beneficial effect on tumours and also enlargements of the glands.
A stomach-ulcer patient had reported that after eating a few lychees (fresh and raw) he was able to enjoy a meal that, usually, would have caused him a lot of discomfort.
Rambutan: The rambutan fruit (perhaps unripe) is known to be astringent, stomachic; and can act as a vermifuge, febrifuge, and can be taken to relieve diarrhoea along with dysentery.
The leaves can be poulticed on the temples to reduce and alleviate headaches.
Conclusions: Which is Better? Rambutan or Lychee?
I love Rambutan, one of my favourite fruits so I would clearly label Rambutan the winner in the battle between the two. Both have similar nutritional values.
However you may feel differently, and really both fruits have very similar nutritional profiles, so sometimes it’s just what’s widely available where you live.
 Soap Nut Saponins Create Powerful Natural Surfactant
 ITIS: Taxonomy and Nomenclature of Rambutan
 USDA: Taxon: Litchi chinensis Sonn.
 USDA: Rambutan, Canned, Syrup Pack
 USDA: Lychee, Raw
 Rambutan. p. 262–265. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL
 Lychee. p. 249–259. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL
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