Interesting Facts About Durian, the Foulest Smelling Fruit in the World
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Interesting Facts About Durian, the Foulest Smelling Fruit in the World

Interesting Facts About Durian, the Foulest Smelling Fruit in the World

Durian is a native South East Asian fruit. Dubbed as the “king of fruit”, durian is famous for its extremely delicious taste, peculiar appearance and offensive odor. The fruit is hated and loved at the same time. Many people suffer from durian carving while others try hard to avoid even the sight of it. Here are some interesting facts about this unique exotic tropical fruit.


  • Durian grows large and heavy. The size of one fruit can reach 12 inches high and six inches wide. The weight can reach three kilograms.
  • Durian outer husk is thick and fully covered with sharp spiky thorns.  The name durian comes from the word “duri”, a Malay word for thorn.
  • The color of the husk varies from green to brown or yellow depending on its stage of ripeness. When a durian is ripe enough, the husk is pale and softer.
  • The shape of the durian is round, oval or oblong. The fruit is slightly similar to the jackfruit.
  • Inside its husk, Durian has juicy soft flesh contained in cells. The color of the flesh depends on the species. Common durian species found in Indonesia usually has pale yellow or silky white flesh. Certain species grow in Borneo Island have bright red flesh.  
  • Durian tree is tall; its height can reach 50 meters. Durian falling from its tree can cause serious injury if it lands on people’s head. The tree can bear fruit after five years.

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  • Alfred Russel Wallace, a British Naturalist, wrote in 1856 that the flesh of durian was tasted like custard flavored with almond. Wallace also said that the flesh had the flavor of cream cheese, onion sauce and sherry wine.  Wallace went further by saying that the fruit was a new sensation; it was a fruit of the most exquisite flavor. Wallace himself was addicted to durian.



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  • The smell of Durian fruit is strongly offensive. Because of durian’s disagreeable aroma, Anthony Burgess, a British novelist said that eating durian was like eating berries in the lavatory. Other writers and travelers had invariably described the odor of this fruit as rotten onion, gym socks, stale vomit, skunk spray and many others.
  • Different species carry different aromas. Indonesian and Malaysian durians have stronger odor while Thailand varieties have less offensive smell. 
  • In Indonesia and other South East Asia big city hotels, durian is forbidden. The fruit also cannot be carried on certain public transportation.
  • The strong aroma can be detected by certain animals, particularly civet from up to half a mile away.

Where and when does it grow?


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  • Durian is tropical fruit growing in South East Asia, mainly in Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia. Thailand is the largest producer of this fruit followed by Indonesia and Malaysia. In these countries durian had been cultivated widely for hundreds of years.
  • The Island of Borneo contains the highest diversity of durian species; almost all edible species of durian is growing and sold on this island.
  • Durian’s season is usually from June to August.  During these months, the fruit is available in almost every street corner in Indonesia and other South East Asian countries. One tree may have two fruiting periods per annum.

Durian flower. Image credit

How to eat it?

  • From 30 recognized species of durian, only nine are confirmed as edible fruit. However, there are still many species of durian which have not yet fully examined. In addition many varieties of new cultivars are now being developed as well.
  • The durian can be eaten at various stages of ripeness. The ideal stage of ripeness also differs from species to species and among regions. Generally, the fruit can be enjoyed when its husk had cracked. However some people prefer to let the fruit get overripe. In this stage, the fruit will let out more alcoholic aroma.
  • Part of durian that can be eaten is the flesh or sometimes referred to as the “pulp”. The weight of this edible part is only 15 to 30 percent of the total mass of the fruit.
  • The fruit is used to flavor variety of candies, ice creams, biscuits, cakes, milkshakes and many other sweet edibles. In Indonesia, the durian ice cream is one of the most popular desserts. 

Durian pancake. Image credit

  • Durian can also be served with steamed rice. In some parts of Indonesia durian is used as ingredient in making soup. On Sumatra Island, durian is made into sauce and the sauce is then used to cook fish. This dish is called the "tempoyak". Also in Sumatra, low quality durian is fermented. The fermented durian can be eaten with rice or used to make curry.

The tempayak. Image credit

  • In North Sumatra, the petal of durian flower is cooked. Durian seed is roasted or grilled or fried and consumed as well while in Java, the seed is sliced and cooked with sugar.
  • In the Moluccas Islands, durian husk is used as fuel to cook smoked fish.

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Comments (7)

Thank you Yovita. In India, there is a great demand for this fruit. People believe that it improves fertility greatly.

The taste described sounds good, but I don't know if I could get past the smell. I have never heard of this but would love to try it one day. Voted. : )

This or one of the similar fruits is popular across China. Interesting article on this unusual looking fruit.

I'm laughing my arse off at Anthony Burgess's statement. I have neither heard of or seen this fruit before. I don't know if i would be able to handle the smell though.

Very interesting Durian. Voted up. Thank you Yovita for support.

Interesting, enjoyable and well illustrated read. thanks

I have heard of this fruit, but I don't think I'm brave enough to try it! Nice writeup -- voted.