The Durian is a fruit formed by the Malvaceae, a plant which is in the same family as the hibiscus, okra, and cotton tree family. This fruit is widely known and used in Southeast Asia. The Asians consider this to be the “King of Fruits” because of its distinctive size, odour, and husk. You may be surprised to learn that the Durian was named to mean “thorny fruit”. There are thirty species of the Durio in Southeast Asia although only nine of these species are edible. The Durian is a nutty sweet fruit and the outer portion of the fruit is a thorny husk with a meaty inside.
The Dorian is rich with history and legends. Part of the history of this fruit includes a quote from Alfred Russell Wallace, a British naturalist in 1856. He said the fruit was custard in colour with an almond flavour. If you go back even further you will find that during prehistoric times in Southeast Asia this fruit to be consumed by the Indigenous people. From the prehistoric age references in the 15th century on through to the 1700’s it is possible to tell that there has been interest in this particular fruit.
We now see this fruit mostly in Southeast Asia or in botanical gardens where the genus has been introduced for education purposes. In fact, the first seedlings to arrive in England came in 1884 to the Botanic Gardens.
Some nutritional and medical information demonstrates that the fruit contains a high amount of sugar, vitamin C, potassium, and tryptophan. It is considered a great “rave food”. In Malaysia, the leaves and roots have been used as antipyretic and the leaf juice is often applied to the head of a fever patient to reduce the fever and help the patient return to normal health again. Other uses and impressions come from Chinese medicine. The Durian fruit is considered to have warming properties and cause sweating. Those who have high blood pressure or are pregnant are not supposed to have the Durian fruit as it is supposed to be hazardous to their health due to these warming effects. Another belief is that Durian is harmful when you eat it with coffee or alcoholic beverages. In other words, the Chinese legend says that you should never have those things combined. An 18th century theory is that indigestion and bad breath will result from eating this type of fruit. Another legend tells you not to eat the Durian fruit when consuming brandy as it can be poisonous to your health.
The Japanese believe that the Durian fruit is an aphrodisiac. They have even gone so far as to create rules on when Durian may be consumed and when it may not.