Durio zibethinus grows to a height of 27 to 40 meters in the wild. The tree has a straight trunk typically 1.2m in diameter. The crown is irregular and densely packed with branches that support oblong evergreen leaves which are six to 25 centimeters in length and two to nine cm in width. These leaves are a glossy green with a point at the apex. The flower has five sepals and three petals, with many stamen and a single stigma. The flowers bloom at night and are formed in pendant like clusters of three to thirty blooms. A tough yellow-green, semi woody rind with sharp spines covers the fruit. The irregular ovoid fruits are 15 to 30cm in length and 12 to 15cm in width. Weights of up to eight kilograms are not uncommon. Inside the rind, five compartments house the creamy white to yellow to orange flesh. The odorous fruit has one to seven seeds within the flesh which are two to six centimeters in length and have a shape and texture similar to an avocado pit (Morton, 1987). Studies have shown that bees can be used to pollinate cultivated trees. In the wild the flower of D. zibethinus are pollinated primarily by fruit bats. The fruits bats also aid in distribution of the seeds. (Bumrungsri, 2009).
Durio zibethinus grows to a height of 27 to 40 meters in the wild. The tree has a straight trunk typically 1.2m in diameter. The crown is irregular and densely packed with branches that support oblong evergreen leaves which are six to 25 centimeters in length and two to nine cm in width. These leaves are a glossy green with a point at the apex. The flower of the D. zibethinus is described as malodorous and yellowish cream in color. The flower has five sepals and three petals, with many stamen and a single stigma. The flowers bloom at night and are formed in pendant like clusters of three to thirty blooms. When pollinated the flowers form a fruit commonly known as a durian.
The fruit releases an odor when ripe that makes it that many consumers find offensive. A tough yellow-green, semi woody rind with sharp spines covers the fruit. The irregular ovoid fruits are 15 to 30cm in length and 12 to 15cm in width. Weights of up to eight kilograms are not uncommon. Inside the rind, five compartments house the creamy white to yellow to orange flesh. The flesh is described as having a rich custard texture and tasting heavily of almonds. The odorous fruit has one to seven seeds within the flesh which are two to six centimeters in length and have a shape and texture similar to an avocado pit (Morton, 1987).
While studies have shown that bees can be used to pollinate cultivated trees the flower of the wild type D. zibethinus are pollinated primarily by fruit bats (Bumrungsri, 2009). In rural villages within the durian's natural range a harvesting culture has developed. The villagers build huts around the trees to maximize the fruits collected as they drop. The villagers also set traps around the trees to catch animals and birds which are attracted by the fruits odors (Subhadrabandhu, 2001). The fruits of the D. zibethinus have been known to harm people who unlucky enough to be under one when the fruit drops from its branch. In many places it is customary to wear hardhats while collecting the fruit off the ground; as an added precaution countries such as Indonesia place signs around the trees warning residents and tourists of the falling fruits (Vaisutis, 2007).
Durio zibethinus grows in cultivation at altitudes of sea level to 700 feet but has been reported at elevations up to 2,600 feet (Brunner, 2007). The durian being a tropical plant requires abundant rainfall (1,500mm-2,500mm, spread over nine to 11 months) and a temperature of 27-30 degrees Celsius with temperatures of 22 and 46 degrees Celsius being the extremes. In cultivation the plant typically flourishes in latitudes up to 18 degrees North and South of the equator (Ketsa et al, 2008).
Evolution and Systematics
Durio zibethinus is found in the Malavaceae family and the Helicteroideae subfamily. The species is closely related to D. oxleyanus. The genus Durio is related to the Boschia and Cullenia genera, in the tribe Durioneae. The Helicteroideae subfamily was formed after a genetic split, the second branch of this split went on to for the Bombacoideae and Malvoideae subfamilies. It should be noted that support for these subfamilies is poor and is subject to change in the future (Nyffeler et al, 2004)
Ripe fruit of Durio tree species can be detected by potential seed-dispersing animals up to a half mile away due to a pungent odor.
The strong smell of ripe durian fruit, which is extremely unpleasant to many human noses, can be detected half a mile from the source, and thus attracts the attention of a great number of animals that eat the fruit and aid in seed dispersal. (Attenborough 1995:25-27)
Learn more about this functional adaptation.
- Attenborough, D. 1995. The Private Life of Plants: A Natural History of Plant Behavior. London: BBC Books. 320 p.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Durio zibethinus is primarily used as a food source which is high in carbohydrates, potassium, and vitamin C (Ong et al, 2011) (USDA, 2011). The wild type and cultivated fruits are eaten as a local delicacy and are not often seen fresh outside of the tropics do to a short shelf life and a low tolerance for transportation (Soegeng-Reksodiharjo, 1962). The fruit of the D. zibethinus is descrbed as having a slight onion tang with flavors of caramel, vanilla, and banana (Mabberley, 2008). The wild type D. zibethinus has been cultivated successfully with well over 200 cultivars found throughout the tropical regions of the world (Smith, 1992).
As with other durian species, the edible flesh emits a distinctive odour that is strong and penetrating even when the husk is intact. Some people regard the durian as having a pleasantly sweet fragrance; others find the aroma overpowering and revolting. The smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust, and has been described variously as rotten onions, turpentine, and raw sewage. The persistence of its odour has led to the fruit's banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in Southeast Asia.
There are 30 recognised Durio species, at least nine of which produce edible fruit. Durio zibethinus is the only species available in the international market: other species are sold in their local regions. There are hundreds of cultivars of Durio zibethinus; many consumers express preferences for specific cultivars, which fetch higher prices in the market.
D. zibethinus flowers are visited by bats, which eat the pollen and pollinate the flowers. The flowers open in the afternoon and shed pollen in the evening. By the following morning, the calyx, petals, and stamens have fallen off to leave only the gynoecium of the flower.
Over the centuries, numerous durian cultivars, propagated by vegetative clones, have arisen in southeast Asia. They used to be grown with mixed results from seeds of trees bearing superior quality fruit, but now are propagated by layering, marcotting, or more commonly, by grafting, including bud, veneer, wedge, whip or U-grafting onto seedlings of randomly selected rootstocks. Different cultivars may be distinguished to some extent by variations in the fruit shape, such as the shape of the spines. Durian consumers express preferences for specific cultivars, which fetch higher prices in the market.
Most cultivars have a common name and a code number starting with "D". For example, some popular clones are Kop (D99 Thai: กบ – "frog" [kòp]), Chanee (D123, Thai: ชะนี – gibbon [tɕʰániː]), Berserah or Green Durian or Tuan Mek Hijau (D145 Thai: ทุเรียนเขียว – Green Durian [tʰúriːən kʰǐow]), Kan Yao (D158, Thai: ก้านยาว – Long Stem [kâːn jaːw]), Mon Thong (D159, Thai: หมอนทอง – Golden Pillow [mɔ̌ːn tʰɔːŋ]), Kradum Thong (Thai: กระดุมทอง – Golden Button [kràdum tʰɔːŋ]), and with no common name, D24 and D169. Each cultivar has a distinct taste and odour. More than 200 cultivars of D. zibethinus exist in Thailand.
Mon thong is the most commercially sought after for its thick, full-bodied creamy and mild sweet tasting flesh with relatively moderate smell emitted and smaller seeds, while Chanee is the best in terms of its resistance to infection by Phytophthora palmivora. Kan Yao is somewhat less common, but prized for its longer window of time when it is both sweet and odorless at the same time. Among all the cultivars in Thailand, five are currently in large-scale commercial cultivation: Chanee, Mon Thong, Kan Yao, Ruang, and Kradum. There are more than 100 registered cultivars since 1920's in Malaysia and up to 193 cultivar by 1992, and many superior cultivars have been identified through competitions held at the annual Malaysian Agriculture, Horticulture, and Agrotourism Show. In Vietnam, the same process has been achieved through competitions held by the Southern Fruit Research Institute. A recently popular variety is, Cat Mountain King.
By 2007, Songpol Somsri, a Thai government scientist, had crossbred more than ninety varieties of durian to create Chantaburi No. 1, a cultivar without the characteristic odour. Another hybrid, Chantaburi No. 3, develops the odour about three days after the fruit is picked, which enables an odourless transport yet satisfies consumers who prefer the pungent odour. On 22 May 2012, two other cultivars from Thailand that also lack the usual odour, Long Laplae and Lin Laplae, were presented to the public by Yothin Samutkhiri, governor of Uttaradit province from where these cultivars were developed locally, while he announced the dates for the yearly durian fair of Laplae District, and the name giver to both cultivars.
Nutritional and medicinal
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||615 kJ (147 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||3.8 g|
|Vitamin A||44 IU|
Edible parts only, raw or frozen.
Refuse: 68% (Shell and seeds)
Source: USDA Nutrient database
|Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.|
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
- "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". Retrieved July 3, 2014.
- Brown, Michael J. (1997). Durio – A Bibliographic Review. International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI). ISBN 92-9043-318-3. Retrieved 2014-06-03.
- "ST Foodies Club – Durian King". The Straits Times. 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-12-15. Retrieved 2007-07-25.
- (Thai) "Durian Exporting Strategy, National Durian Database (กลยุทธการส่งออกทุเรียน)". Department of Agriculture, Thailand. Archived from the original on 2010-07-26. Retrieved 2010-07-26.
- "Comprehensive List of Durian Clones Registered by the Agriculture Department (of Malaysia)". Durian OnLine. Archived from the original on 2008-11-20. Retrieved 2006-03-05.
- Boosting Durian Productivity
- Teo, Wan Gek (2009-06-23). "Durian lovers head north on day tours". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2009-09-19.
- Fuller, Thomas (2007-04-08). "Fans Sour on Sweeter Version of Asia's Smelliest Fruit". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-11-20.
- Odourless durians to hit the market – The Nation
- "USDA National Nutrient Database". U.S. Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2013-02-22.
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