What is a durian?
The name durian comes from the Malay word duri (which mean thorn). Add the suffix -an and you have a noun in Malay.
The word durian usually refers to the fruit but it can also mean the durian pulp or flesh (technically called arils) that we eat, and also to the tree.
|Durian can refer to the durian fruit, pulp (flesh) or tree|
More Common Names in:
- Cambodia: Thu-réén
- Laos: Thourièn, Mahk tulieng
- Vietnam: Sâù riêng
- Thailand: Thurian, Rian
- Philippines: Dulian
- Indonesia: Duren, Ambetan, Kadu
- Myanmar: Du-yin
- Mandarin: Liulian
Origin and Distribution of Durian
Where do durians come from?
The island of Borneo is generally accepted as the original geographic origin and center of diversity of the genus Durio.
It has been reported that Durio has about 27 recognized species. The island of Borneo has 19 indigenous or native species of Durio while the island of Sumatra has 7 native species. Peninsular Malaysia has 11 species. Myanmar has 2 recognized species indigenous to the country. It was also hypothesized that a land bridge connected Palawan in the Philippines with Borneo during the pleistocene era with D. zibethinus L. found occurring naturally on Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago as well as Palawan.
South east Asia region including the northern regions of
Australia and southern India where durians are grown.
This blog is all about this particular species of durian.
|Zibethinus is the most important species in the genus Durio|
Durian is the "King of Fruits"
"as producing a food of the most exquisite flavour it is unsurpassed... I should certainly choose the Durian ..as the king of fruits".
Alfred Russel Wallace
The durian is the most famous and popular tropical fruit in Southeast Asia. Fondly regarded as the "King of Fruits", the durian is sought and savored with passion by millions of durian lovers in the south east Asian region. Its fame is spreading and there is a strong demand for quality durian in Hong Kong and mainland China. Durian fans can also be found in Taiwan, USA, Europe and Canada.
|Durian - the Crowned Jewel amongst tropical fruits|
How The Common Durian Got Its Scientific Name
At the beginning of the 15th century, many famous European travelers called the durian with names such as "doriones", " durion", "duryaoen", "durean", and "durioen". There was no accurate descriptions of the durian then. The durian was very often confused with another green thorny fruit known as the soursop (Annona muricata).
|The durian (left) and lookalike soursop (right)|
Rumphius' detailed descriptions of the durian had contributed significantly to our current knowledge of this unique tropical fruit. He was accredited with creating the genus "Durio".
He also managed to clear the confusion between the durian and the soursop which had been a source of inaccurate information about the durian since the beginning of the 15th century. It is interesting to note that the soursop is known in the local Malay language as "durian belanda" or "Dutch" durian.
|G.E. Rumphius - "Herbarium Amboinense"|
While Rumphius was accredited with the creation of the genus Durio, it was Carl Linnaeus who affixed the Latin name zibethinus to it.
|Carl Linnaeus and his "Systema Vegetabilium"|
|Carl Linnaeus' Systema Vegetabilium 14th edition and durian's scientific name|
Zibethinus is derived from the Italian word zibetto, which means "civet cat" and is also an old name for "skunk".
Thus, this popular tropical fruit gets its name from the civet cat's love affair with the fruit and NOT that it smells like a civet cat!
Thus, the botanical name for this common durian is known as
Durio zibethinus L.
|The common durian - Durio zibethinus L.|
The earliest valid publication on the species is that listed on page 581 of the 13th edition of Linnaeus’s ‘Systema Vegetabilium’ published in 1774, and edited by J.A. Murray. This confirmed Linnaeus as the authority because he was the author of the book. Murray was just the editor. The 14th edition of ‘Systema Vegetabilium’ of 1784 put the entry for Durio on page 698.