The real Raja Kucing of Durians

White Cat at the Durian Stall

Is this the Raja Kucing of Durians?

It was another one of those marvellous evenings of wine, prawns and durians, and it was the first time ever that I spied this beautiful white cat. ┬áThe word “Raja” means King and “Kucing” means cat. This cat was searching for rats at the Durian stall but its owner says that it will eat durian too if it finds the stinky fruit lying around on the floor… I guess no one or no animal is truly able to resist.

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Stinky Spike Family Update

I would like to introduce you to the Stinky Spikes Family. In photos!

Stinky Durian Plant

Stinky Spikes No. 2

Stinky Spikes Durian Plantlet No. 3

Stinky Spikes No. 3

Stinky Durian Plant No. 4

Stinky Spikes No. 4

Durian Plant no. 5

Stinky Spikes No. 5

Stinky Durian Plantlet No. 6

Stinky Spikes No. 6

Stinky Spikes Durian Plant No. 7

Stinky Spikes No. 7

I have to tell you, these D24 seeds really germinated well. The size of the seed was a direct correlation to the size of the initial stem and plant, so do pick the largest seeds for the best chance of strong early growth.

Stinky Spikes Durian Family

Stinky Spikes Durian Family

All the D24s are beating the Tauwa now. But I suspect a greater system problem there… will share the investigations with you soon.

These D24s doubled the height in half the time.

Durian Plants Stinky Spikes Family

It’s about time I let you in on a little secret. Stinky Spikes No. 1 isn’t alone. That’s right. All along, I’ve been worried that SS No. 1 may not make it and in a subsequent durian session, SW and I collected more durian seeds (which fit our criteria for suitable growth) and decided to have a go at germinating them too.

Stinky Durian Seeds from the D24

Big Stinky Seeds of the D24 Durians

This time, the seeds weren’t from a Tauwa tree, but a rather delicious D24. Common enough I hear you say, yes, its true. D24 is very commonly found and quite consistent in flavor and texture, a much loved and dependable favorite of the Durian world. However, it is a hybrid and being one of the most successful ones around, we figured it to be a tenacious specie of the lot and therefore worth a try.

HOW WE CHOSE THE OPTIMAL SEEDS FOR GERMINATION AND GROWTH

From our last Tauwa experience for SS No. 1, I decided that I had learned something. Out of the 2 seeds I had brought home and treated in exactly the same fashion, only one germinated successfully while the other simply withered up, turned black and underwent necrosis in the exact same pot.

Pondering upon the what’s and the why’s led me to suspect (as I have mentioned in previous posts) that SIZE does indeed matter. The bigger and more symmetrical of the 2 seeds germinated while the other one which was flattish and sort of slightly mis-shapened didn’t develop… (see above para).

Hence, this led to the ultimate conclusion that seeds should be BIG, ROUND, FULL and FRESH!

Another important criteria was the cleaning and removal of the remaining flesh and the mild sterilization to ensure that mould and other germs don’t beat the germination process by consuming the entire seedling before it has a headstart in life.

So there you have it, the choicest round, heavy, largest seeds we had from the pack.

Durian Seed Looks like Nose

THE SEED THAT WOULD NOT GERMINATE

Just to illustrate this point further, here’s an example of a seed to avoid taking home to germinate. I thought this seed looked so peculiar, it resembled a funny looking nose with indentations on each side and of totally unbalanced proportions. A seed like this would probably not have the right supplies of food stores and wouldn’t be an optimal candidate for germination.

SECRET STASH OF STINKY SPIKIES OF THE D24 KIND

Observation: This time round, I paid more attention to the possibility that bigger seeds might yield bigger and healthier plants. I’m glad to say that this hypothesis isn’t far wrong and big seeds do certainly yield bigger plants from the very start.

Anyway, here’s a brief starter glimpse into the germination process and in the next entry, I will feature the Stinky spikes plantlings themselves.

Durian seedlings

The 3 D24 Durian Seedlings


D24 seedlings sideview

D24 seedlings germinating side view

Top view of the D24 Stinky Spikes, SS No.2, SS No. 3 and SS No. 4

Notice how large these stems are, literally splitting the seed open.

Side view of the 3 D24 Durian Seedlings

This photo provides you with some perspective of the size of the seeds and you can see how strong and firm the stems are pushing down into the cotton wool with its singular tap root probing for the water. The stems are almost as tall and long as the seed itself.

D24 Durian seeds germinating 4 in a box

4 D24 Durian seedlings germinating

Top-Side View of the 4 Durian Seedlings germinating in the box.

Notice that 3 have prominent roots and stems already, while the seedling on the top right looks healthy but fails to produce roots. This seed had developmental issues and failed to develop further although it did absorb a lot of water and always appeared to be about to germinate.

Updates on Baby Durian Plant Stinky Spikes No. 1

Stinky Spikes Durian Plant No. 1

Stinky Spikes Durian Plant No. 1 (SS No.1)

It’s been a while since I updated you on the progress of the durian plant named Stinky Spikes No. 1 (or SS No. 1 for short).

SS N0. 1 has grown somewhat but not quite at the rate which I would think befitting for a tree. Then again, it might just the the species of our little plant, it is a rare Tauwa, otherwise known as a “old tree” in local speak, ot a tree which has been cloned and hybridized by farmers for optimal growth and fruiting. This little durian plant is sure taking its time. To be fair, it has grown somewhat, the crown of it has exceeded the height of its pot, but it still looks quite fragile and tentative to me. Not sure if I ought to be doing anything else right to make it speed up.

This little plant already gets a fair amount of water, you can see that the soil is rather wet and soggy. At first I was concerned that perhaps the roots didn’t like a too wet environment. These rainforest plants do need well drained soils, but then again, SW rationalized with me that the forest floor is shaded and does get heavy monsoon showers which makes it soggy and often waterlogged. Don’t durian plants survive there too? Yes, I suppose they do. So, my watering hasn’t stopped, and SS No. 1 gets watered just like all the others.

You can see that it’s leaves are nice and green, and there are some new fresh leaves that are about to open up at the top. I have it on the balcony but not directly exposed to the sun, it is still somewhat shaded although I’ve been thinking about whether it ought to get at least a few hours of blazing light a day just to dry up the surface of the soil.

The reason why I haven’t been putting it out in the sun, if you recall, is because the last time I did that, I accidentally fried the baby leaves, which turned a complete brown and died. The dried up dead leaves are still present (although you can’t see them in this phot0) on the inside, which serves as a reminder to me that you can’t expose anything that young to too much of anything or it’s going to get killed before you know it.

One of the problems I’ve been having is with the little black flies which look like gnats. They’ve taken up residence in the soil and flit around the plant in the daytime, night time I think they reside in the loose soil. I’m not sure how to get rid of them, I’ve been trying to kill them (manually) and also attempting to scare them away by using citronella, none of which have been successful. Am now thinking of new ideas to get rid of them, including the use of fire (candles, not anything larger) and see if the flies may also be attracted to water (death by drowning). I apologize to any of the buddhists reading this site, but I would like to keep the plants bug free and in as much of a controlled environment as possible.

Amazing Thailand: Durian Chips and Snacks for Tourists

Durian Fruit Derivative Variety

Lots of Different Types of Durian Snacks

Apart from the Gourmet Supermarket in Siam Paragon (which Dan loved too- nice to know), I would also highly recommend a visit to the equally impressive 7th Floor Supermarket of Central World (check out this supermarket on this youtube video). On the same floor as the Central World Cinema (also a very nice cinema), the supermarket boasts a reasonable Thai food selection (food court found deep inside the supermarket) while the outside hosts some small eating joints of various cuisines. I didn’t know this at the time and chose to have a pasta and a salad at one of the exterior italian cafes, and when I decided on buying some fruits for dessert, chanced upon a whole eaterie within which I would have patronized instead had I known about its existence. The display in this supermarket is not as beautifully laid out as Gourmet and it also didn’t have the same volume of customers, but the location (almost at the top of the mall) and its organization probably were the main reasons why customers may find it tricky to navigate.

As I had time before my night time movie commenced (if you must know, I bought myself a ticket for the “Ugly Truth”- Katherine Heigl and co-stars were superb), I wandered around looking for something I could take into the cinema with me. I walked all the way in and found an excellent selection of organic foods, packaged foods and even foods for tourists…and of course packaged Durian, something all Thais think that tourists could not leave without.

Rows and rows and shelf after shelf of packaged Durian, freeze dried, fried, sliced thin, chunks. And in all sorts of wrapping, see through, foil, vacuum wrapped, tinned and some beautifully cardboard packaging with ultra nice designs too.

Dan, it really made the selection at the Malaysian airport look miserable in comparison. This is the place you go to shop, to bring back some durian snacks for your friends and family who may have never been to Asia.

Here are some close-ups:

Monthong Durian Chips

Monthong Durian Chips

These on the left are the Durian Monthong Chips, Monthong being the primary variety of Durian species found in Thailand. See through, so that you can see that the chips are all nicely formed (not broken) and you can see that rich golden color.

Crispy Durian FruitsOn the right, you’ll see some box packaging of the “King and Queen” Combination, mangosteen and durians, but done in a “crispy” style. I’m not sure how that’s really different from a chip… it’s probably the same but they just thought it might be a unique selling point to give it a different name.

Each of these packets cost between 200-500 Baht, which is approximately 20-50 Ringgit or about 5-15 US Dollars.

Is this considered expensive for a snack? Well, it is certainly more expensive than a pack of potato chips of approximately the same weight.

I thought this package really took the award for most creative packaging and word play. Their brand by the name of “Tasty” makes 2 kinds of Durian derivatives; “DRIED DURIAN” and “DRIED FRIED DURIAN”. And not just dried fried durian, but with the words “EXTRA LARGE” too. I can’t help but wonder if this is some sort of sexual innuendo or perhaps that they are trying to promote it as some sort of aphrodisiac. The words that are prominent beneath it are in chinese which reads “liu lian gan”, which indicates to me that the product targets the mainland Chinese tourist market (a fair number visit Thailand for golfing vacations these days) but they also have the words promoting the health aspects in English. “Product of Nature” and “low cholesterol”. Hilarious. Extra large dried fried for a hundred and forty baht anyone?

Thai Durian Extra Large

Dried and Fried Durian Anyone?

After examining all the packaging available on the shelves, I concluded that the prizewinner for packaging (which by the way is also reflected in the premium pricing) should go to… (drumroll)….

A beautiful photograph depicting the ideal presentation of the contents, coupled with the deep royal blue hues and attractive words which illustrate what the consumer should be tasting and appreciating about the durian product rather than telling it as a method of cooking or trying to extol its health benefits. “CRISPY and DELICIOUS” under the words “Royal Thai Cuisine” truly makes you feel that you’re buying into something with class and refinement.

Blue Elephant Thai Brand

Stylo Durian Chip Packaging by Blue Elephant

I saved this photo for last because I loved the perspective with the tourist signage behind it proclaiming that these were the “tourist favorites”. I also liked the fact that they dressed up the packaging to look like the boxes of panattone which we get at Christmas time, almost pretty enough to hang up on the tree.

More on this on my next trip to Bangkok which is next week!