The tallest durian tree in the world

I really enjoyed this article about the hunt for more elusive Durians. The red and orange Durians, as this article confirms are dead disappointing in taste and it’s just not worth the hassle apart from the novelty of bring instagrammed with it in your hand. Wild Durians probably are relatively “gamey” and appeal only to a narrow palate or if there’s nothing else around to eat.

What was interesting in the article was the mention of the tallest durian tree at 57.5m. The century old tree is located in the deep interior of Sabah in Kampung Kenang-Kenangan supposedly produces 2000 fruit per season. Wow… that’s a real durian bonanza.

The tallest durian tree is located in Tongod

He’s on the hunt for the tortoise durian .. I’m keen to know what that’s like.

The nangka tree off Sau Wa Fong

The other name for nangka is jackfruit. Perhaps you know it by that name? 

I was walking by Sau Wa Fong near Star street one recent weekend and spotted the jackfruit hanging off the very productive tree. Boy, did it look good. No, I’m not going to steal any. I don’t know who the tree belongs to and how it’s looked after. What I did do, was march down to the supermarket and buy myself a pack of Malaysian jackfruit. Yum yum, it was sweet, chewy and aromatic. 

What I did reflect on was that it would’ve been incredible to have a durian tree next to it. I don’t see why the durian tree can’t thrive here, especially with global warming… the winters have been getting shorter and milder. 

Anyone got a space for a durian tree on their doorstep? 

The Jackfruit hanging off the jackfruit tree

Good luck Fillmore! Attempting a mini durian plantation

Fillmore wrote to me some time ago asking if I could send him some durian seeds for his garden. It took a while due to my own dry spell of good durians. Either the seeds had been frozen before (and therefore no longer reliable), or they just didn’t look like good seeds to grow (see this previous post if you need to know what this means).

Anyway on a recent trip back to durian motherland, I managed nothing short of a heist to bring this back for personal enjoyment. It was only one box but soooo delightful. It was a Mao Shan Wang (Musang king), which had large and little seeds. I selected six of the largest, packaged them and sent them off to Fillmore in the Philippines by registered parcel post.

The durians. MSW's from Malaysia.

The durians. MSW’s from Malaysia.

Here’s what Fillmore had to say…..

Hi Stinky Spikes!. . . . I am so happy to let you know that just received yesterday afternoon September 9, 2014 all six (6) durian seeds you sent me via Hong Kong. At that time i just recovered from a fever and colds, but upon seeing the durian seeds, the fever just disappeared. I now planted it in some pots filled with top soil to grow. Are those seeds of the precious Musang King variety? Again, a million thanks to you for those seeds, I will pray that you will always have good health and more blessings to come. Again, thank you.

He got them on the day of the mid Autumn festival, how auspicious! I hope that you’ll invite me for fruit if they grow into trees 🙂

Arguments over Durian Trees in Singapore

Singapore flat residents involved in a thorny issue

Thursday June 21, 2012

SINGAPORE: A durian tree in Moulmein Road, Singapore, became a thorn in relations among residents of a HDB block of flats nearby when fights ensued over who could claim the fruits.

The Straits Times reported that the dispute began three years ago when a resident, known only as Chua, said he was just looking at the tree when another resident, R. Lim, shouted at him to stay away from “his tree”.

He claimed his father planted the tree 20 years ago.

Last week, resident Lily Wee called police after Lim, a businessman in his 50s, shouted expletives at her when she wanted to take a durian.

Root of a problem: A resident looking at the durian tree that has become a bone of contention among neighbours in Moulmein Road, Singapore.

“There are three kinds of people in this world – the good, the bad and the ugly. He belongs to the last group,” said Wee, calling Lim a “durian bully”.

Residents would wait under the tree each fruiting season, sometimes for hours, to take the ripened fruits.

“We can always get fruit from Geylang, but we choose to wait here to kio liu lian,” said a resident known as Patrick, referring to a Hokkien phrase expressing the thrill of getting free durians.

About 100 durians could be harvested each year from the single tree, which first bore fruit seven years ago.

Frustrated over the fiasco, some residents had asked for the tree to be chopped down, but the Moulmein-Kallang municipal council had let the tree be.

It will, however, put up two notices stating that the neighbourhood trees belong to the Housing Board and are maintained by the town council.

Resident Peter Yang approved of not chopping the tree, and said neighbours had begun to bond as they queued and chatted while waiting for the fruits to fall.

“Despite a little bit of nonsense, you still get some good out of it,” he said.

From the Singapore Straits Times

Durian Seeds for Brett

Ok, I finally summoned up the bravado to put up this post. Brett had asked me to send him some seeds and I did. I took the liberty of ascertaining if they were good to grow by cleaning them and placing them in water to see if they would yield viable sprouts, which you can see that they did from the photo below. I put them in a neat little tupperware, packed it with wet cotton wool and sealed it twice over with cling film. Put in a nice packaged envelope and sent them by the express mail to him in California.

Sadly, Brett tells me that the seeds did arrive, but were completely destroyed in the shipping process. I wonder if it was intentional by Mr. Postman who maybe didn’t want any durians crossing the border. Brett wrote that he ended up eating them so as not to waste them, but they had arrived in splinters and were of no use to him.

Anyway, I can’t say that I wasn’t disappointed, but I guess the only way to know is to try again. Brett, you can see the seeds in their original state before they left me and I had written this brief post but hadn’t posted it yet and was hoping in some part that you might have a little plant to show me.


Dear Brett,

These wonderful highland D24 durian seeds are in the post to you and if all is well, you should be receiving them in another day or two. I hope that they survive the journey and have a new and happy home with you in America.

Durian seeds for Brett

2 Durian Saplings are Thriving in Bristol

Durian Sapling in Bristol

3 year old Durian Sapling in a Bristol Flat

Thank you Chris for sending us a photo of your durian sapling (btw, definition: sapling = young tree) which is absolutely beautiful.

Notice that its grown very tall (would you say 1 ft a year Chris?) and the leaves are very well formed and lush green.

A note from Chris on his Stinky Spike:

“This Durian sapling is about 3 years old. I planted the seeds from a fruit I bought in China Town, London. Because I am in the UK and winters here are cold, I germinated the seeds on a heated pad, like the ones they use for reptiles and amphibians. I now keep the growing tree near a radiator (which other plants seem to hate because it dries them out!), but I water it often with luke warm water from the kettle. I also planted it in ericaeous compost (I think normal potting compost is too rich for durian plants). All in all, it seems to tolerate my drafty flat in Bristol much better than expected!”


Chris, I have a few questions for you (hope you don’t mind!):

1. Did you start off growing this tree in the same pot as you have now or did you transplant it from a smaller pot?

2. I notice that the leaf tips turn brown, mine does too, any idea why? (is it natural?)

3. When your plant grew, did it lose any of its initial leaves along the way?

4. Did your plant grow from the base and is there a rough-ish texture along the initial stem?

5. Why is there a mirror beside the pot? Is this to reflect more light onto the leaves?

6. How long do you intend to keep it in your flat before you think it needs to be planted outdoors?

7. Do you intend to attempt at making a durian bonsai?

8. Do you love Durian fruit?

I am really looking forward to seeing Chris’s photos on his Durian Sapling’s sibling, which he donated to the botanic gardens of Bristol. Apparently, it is thriving in a heated greenhouse and is in better shape!

It would be pretty amazing if suddenly Bristol could become a European durian hub. But its going to be tough to beat the variety we have here in Malaysia 🙂

No more Tauwa for SW

SS No. 1 Brown Tips

SS No. 1 Brown Tips

Oh dear, Oh dear. There I was telling you how healthy SS No. 1 is and how well its doing. SS No. 1 has still got many challenging stages to get through to survive. It all started with my observation of the tips of the leaves turning brown, an indication to me that something was going wrong with this little plant. First it was one leaf, then in a span of a few days, I noticed that several leaves started having their tips turn brown too. Concern turned into alarm as I realised that I might have either a spreading infection in this plant or that something was killing it. Turning to my book “What’s wrong with my plant” for advice, I read that in many plants, leaves turning brown gradually but not due to bugs consuming it or sun burn is an indication that there is a remote problem, usually the roots.

Oh no! The roots! How would I be able to tell if it is a root infection or perhaps my own folly of over-watering? I spent a dreamless Saturday night mulling over my possible actions and its consequences. On Sunday morning, I had made my decision and broke the news to SW.

“You’re going to have to help me today,” I said ” the little Tauwa durian plant looks rather ill and we have to dig it up and check its roots.” Before SW could protest, I added ” Go look at it, it really doesn’t look well and I’m not sure what’s wrong”. With that, SW went to have a look at the little durian plant and indeed solemnly agreed that perhaps it wasn’t looking its best. What shall we do about it, he asked.

SS. No. 1 in Troubled Waters

“Hmm, perhaps we could attempt a change of soil environment, I suspect that something’s up with the soil, maybe fungal or bugs or perhaps it is just too wet and the soil isn’t able to drain because of the fancy pot we put it in…”

Well we shook the soil off and attempted a round in water but I think you can tell that it’s going to be a futile rescue. Well SS No. 1 has already had its first near death experience an this is the second so let’ see how it goes.

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.


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


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.


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.