This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(from a Malayan vernacular). Bombacaceae. Trees of the Indian archipelago and Malaysia, one of which yields the durian (D. zibethinus, Linn.), a much-prized fruit of the East. Fig. 1366. There are probably a dozen other species of Durio, mostly Bor-nean and recently described.
The durian is a tall tree (to 80 ft.), with oblong acuminate entire leaves, colored and scaly beneath, pinnately veined, coriaceous: flowers large, whitish, in lateral cymes or fascicles; calyx bell-shaped, 5-lobed, subtended by an involucre; petals 3; staminal column divided above into many filaments in 4-6 groups, the anthers twisted; ovary 5-celled, each cell many-ovuled, bearing a long style with a capitate stigma: fruit ovoid or globular, often 10 in. long, very spiny, somewhat woody, mostly indehiscent, the large seeds and carpels surrounded by a firm cream-colored edible pulp. The fruit has a strong offensive odor.
The durian is discussed as follows by O. W. Barrett in the Philippine Agricultural Review:
"The durian has an odor that can be compared only to a mixture of old cheese and onions, flavored with turpentine; but those who eat it love it so dearly that the smell does not bother them. . . . The fruit weighs about five pounds, nearly one-third of which is edible pulp and about one-sixth of which is edible seeds; the sugar-content is over 12 per cent, and it contains the same amount of starch besides. The tree is magnificent and stately, and grows usually in open country, in the edges of forests, around native villages, and in clearings. - It can hardly be called a cultivated tree; at least, it is hardly ever grown in orchards, although on the other hand it could hardly hold its own in the real wild. Throughout Malaysia it is considered the most delicious fruit. Europeans, of course, generally revolt at the unpleasant odor; a fair proportion, however, of the foreign residents soon grow to relish the durian. Although it would not be wise, perhaps, for one unaccustomed to the fruit to eat a large quantity of the pulp at one sitting, there is apparently no substance in it that would cause indigestion or any other result than a rather unpleasant breath for a few hours after eating.
The chemical body which is responsible for the very pronounced odor is probably one of the sulfur compounds with some base perhaps similar to that of butyric acid. - Harvesting the durian is not unattended with danger, for soon after it becomes mature the heavy fruit falls, and occasionally kills or severely injures the unlucky individual underneath."
Fig. 1366. The durian - Durio zibethinus. (X 1/4) (From an early representation of the fruit.)
The seeds are eaten roasted, and the unripe fruit boiled as a vegetable. The tree has been successfully introduced into Jamaica, but is not in general cultivation in that island.
The specific name, zibethinus, is said to be derived from the practice of using the decomposed fruit as a bait for the civet-cat or zibet. Fig. 1366 is reduced from Vol. 7 of the Trans, of the Linn. Soc, 1804, illustrating Konig's historic account of the fruit. l. H. B.