DURIAN (Malay, duri, a thorn), the fruit of Durio zibethinus, a tree of the natural order Bombaceae, which attains a height of 70 or 80 ft., has oblong, tapering leaves, rounded at the base, and yellowish-green flowers, and bears a general resemblance to the elm. The durio is cultivated in Sumatra, Java, Celebes and the Moluccas, and northwards as far as Mindanao in the Philippines; also in the Malay Peninsula, in Tenasserim, on the Bay of Bengal, to 14° N. lat., and in Siam to the 13th and 14th parallels. The fruit is spherical, and 6 to 8 in. in diameter, approaching the size of a large coco-nut; it has a hard external husk or shell, and is completely armed with strong pyramidal tubercles, meeting one another at the base, and terminating in sharp thorny points; these sometimes inflict severe injuries on persons upon whom the fruit may chance to fall when ripe. On dividing the fruit at the joins of the carpels, where the spines arch a little, it is found to contain five oval cells, each filled with a cream-coloured, glutinous, smooth pulp, in which are embedded from one to five seeds about the size of chestnuts. The pulp and the seeds, which latter are eaten roasted, are the edible parts of the fruit. With regard to the taste of the pulp, A.R. Wallace remarks, "A rich butter-like custard, highly flavoured with almonds, gives the best idea of it, but intermingled with it come wafts of flavour that call to mind cream-cheese, onion-sauce, brown sherry and other incongruities;... it is neither acid, nor sweet, nor juicy, yet one feels the want of none of these qualities, for it is perfect as it is." The fruit, especially when not fresh from the tree, has, notwithstanding, a most offensive smell, which has been compared to that of rotten onions or of putrid animal matter. The Dyaks of the Sarawak river in Borneo esteem the durian above all other fruit, eat it unripe both cooked and raw, and salt the pulp for use as a relish with rice.
See Linschoten, Discours of Voyages, bk. i. chap. 57, p. 102, fol. (London, 1598); Bickmore, Travels in the East Indian Archipelago, p. 91 (1868); Wallace, The Malay Archipelago (3rd ed., 1872).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)