Where seen? The target of many obssessed Singaporeans,
Durian trees can still be found growing wild in many parts of Singapore.
They often mark the locations of 'kampongs' or villages that have
long since been cleared. Pulau Ubin has lots of durian trees. The
durian is native of Southeast Asia, with 28 species, mostly in Borneo.
There are 13 species in Malaya found in lowland forest. The scientific
name comes from the Italian 'zibetto' or civet
cat which also has a noxious smell.
Features: Tall tree with sparse,
long branches. Leaves narrow and pointed, silvery or coppery scales
on the underside, arranged alternately. Flowers pom-pom shaped with
a lot of stamens and 4-5 pale petals. The flowers open in the afternoon
and are pollinated by bees, flies and beetles, and at night by bats.
They fall off after midnight. The fruit is large, covered densely
with sharp hard thorns. It is a capsule with 4-5 compartments filled
with large seeds covered with a thin flesh which is relished as a
According to Corners, fallen fruits in the wild first attract elephants
followed by tiger, deer, pig, rhinoceros, tapir and monkey. He says
there are stories of natives gathering durians who were 'gathered
in turn by an elephant'.
Mangrove connection: According
to Tomlinson, a study in west Malaysia found that Durian flowers are
pollinated almost entirely by a single species of bat Eonycterus
spelaea. This bat roosts primarily in limestone caves and are
fast flyers that range up to 50km each night in search of pollen and
nectar from a wide variety of plants. Their range include mangroves
and the mangrove Sonneratia
species especially S.
alba are important sources of food for these bats.
Human uses: The durian fruit evokes extreme reactions.
People either love it or hate it, few are indifferent to it. Burkill
declares 'many writers have attempted to describe the taste, and differ
in their description, perhaps much more widely than the taste itself.'
Flowers on a thick branch.
Durians in Singapore
zibethinus on Total Vascular Flora of Singapore Online:
photos and fact sheet.
you drink, don't durian on the wild shores of singapore blog:
Your mom was right: eating durians and drinking booze at the same
time can kill!
- Hsuan Keng,
S.C. Chin and H. T. W. Tan. 1990, The
Concise Flora of Singapore: Gymnosperms and Dicotyledons.
Singapore University Press. 222 pp.
E. J. H., 1997. Wayside
Trees of Malaya: in two volumes.
Fourth edition, Malayan Nature Society, Kuala Lumpur. Volume 1:
1-476 pp, plates 1-38; volume 2: 477-861 pp., plates 139-236.
I. H., 1993. A
Dictionary of the Economic Products of the Malay Peninsula.
3rd printing. Publication Unit, Ministry of Agriculture, Malaysia,
Kuala Lumpur. Volume 1: 1-1240; volume 2: 1241-2444.
P. B., 1986. The
Botany of Mangroves
Cambridge University Press. USA. 419 pp.