The land around Yuanlin was cleared of trees and bushes, and fitted for cultivation since the time of Yongzheng of the Qing Dynasty (1723-1735). It was well developed about the 16th year of Qian-Long. At first, people cut down the surrounding forests to build their houses. Gradually, only the round woodland was left, and the town was named 圓林 (Yuanlin), meaning "the round woodland." Later the characters were changed to 員林 (Yuanlin). Yuanlin produces different kinds of fruits, and succade (fruit cooked in sugar syrup and encrusted with a sugar crystals) is one of its specialties.