An impressive sight in our Garden is our Durian (Durio zibethinus), a tropical lowland tree native to Southeast Asia that is often referred to as the “King of Fruits”. This regal tree has a massive, straight trunk that can attain a height of 100 feet and glossy green leaves that have a silvery bronze underside.
The crowning glory of this species is the fruit it bears. The Durian produces large oblong fruit, weighing up to 10 Ibs. each, which is green while maturing, then turns a yellowish color. It is covered with sharp, stubby spines and most specimens have a strong odor which some people find objectionable or even repulsive. The fruit takes about 3 months to mature. It then falls to the ground and ripens in about two or three days. Once on the ground they split open revealing up to 5 segments of soft, custard-like pulp which is very sweet, rich and filling.
The Garden’s Durian Tree is located behind the Cook Pine tree, where there is no danger of the fruit falling on anyone. Planted twelve years ago, the tree has grown over 50 feet tall and set fruit for the first time this May, bearing over 45 fruit.
The variety of Durian we have is called Gom Pun. Compared to some of the other varieties grown commercially, the Gom Pun tends to be sweeter and richer, in addition to having a higher oil content. The Garden staff, several visitors and our Founders, Dan and Pauline Lutkenhouse, sampled some of the fruit. We look toward to even more fruit being produced in years to come!