Singapore Government Logo

A Singapore Government Agency Website

Durio zibethinus


Durio zibethinus L.

Family Name: Malvaceae
Synonyms: Durio acuminatissimus Merr.
Common Name: Durian, Durian Kampong, 榴莲


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Big (>30m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Rounded
Maximum Height 40 m


Native Distribution Sumatra and Borneo

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form This is a tall tree with an upright growth habit, and a short, straight trunk with rough and peeling bark. The crown is large, irregular, and may range from dense to fairly open with bare branches. 
Foliage Leaves are oblong, rounded at the base with pointed tips. They are discolourous, being green and glossy on the upper surface and silvery or bronze on the underside. Individual leaves are 6 - 20cm long and 3 - 9cm wide, occurring in an alternate arrangement.
Flowers The bright yellow flowers are cauliflorous, produced directly on large branches in clusters of up to 30 flowers. Each flower has three petals, 5 - 7cm wide, with a bell-shaped calyx. The flowers bloom at night, releasing a strong odour to attract bats which are the main pollinators.
Fruit The fruits are coated with a hard and thorny husk that ranges in colour from green to brown. The seeds are covered with a fleshy aril, ranging from white to yellow. The flesh has a unique and strong odour, which is apparent even when the husk is not broken. It is edible and is known as the "King of Fruits" in Southeast Asia, but the strong odour and creamy texture of the flesh make it an acquired taste. Fruiting occurs once or twice a year, with the primary season in May to June.
Cultivation Propagated by seed or grafting. Seeds must be planted fresh as they quickly lose viability. Seeds will germinated in about a week. Plants are also be grafted. Grafted trees begin bearing fruit within 4 - 5 years. Does well in deep, loamy and well-drained soil high in organic matter. A pH range of 6 - 7 is ideal. Avoid peaty or sandy and poorly drained soils, as the root system is sensitive to standing water. For durian cultivation, gently sloping terrain is ideal. 
Etymology The genus Durio is the Malayan name for the durian fruit. The specific epithet zibethinus is taken after foul-smelling fruits of durian. 
Ethnobotanical Uses Food (Fruit & Vegetable): The flesh surrounding the seeds is mostly eaten fresh. It is commonly found in Southeast Asia. It may also be canned in syrup for export, or frozen. It is also dried for local use and export. The seeds themselves are also edible after boiling, drying and frying, or roasting. In Java, seeds are thinly sliced and cooked with sugar as a confection. Young leaves and shoots are occasionally cooked as greens. In Malaysia, the flowers are stir-fried and eaten with chili and soy-sauce. 
Medicinal: The flesh is said to serve as a vermifuge, while the leaves and roots are decocted and used as a febrifuge. Juices from the leaves are applied to the head of patients with fever. The leaves are also used in medicinal baths for patients with jaundice. Decoctions of the leaves and fruits are applied to swellings and skin diseases. 
Cultural / Religious: Heritage Tree :                                                   There is currently one individual of Durio zibethinus listed as a Heritage Tree in Singapore. It can be found on Pulau Ubin. To find out more about these trees, please visit the Heritage Tree Register.
Others: The wood is used to build the interiors of huts and for masts in Malaysia.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Fragrant (Flowers) (Night)
Usage Hazard - Cons Spines/Thorns - Fruit

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna) (Vertebrates (Bat))
Seed or Spore Dispersal Biotic (Fauna)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Fertile Loamy Soils
Pest(s) Vertebrates (Herbivores)
Propagation Method Seed, Grafting


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green, Brown
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Glossy / Shiny
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Brown, Green
Young Flush Texture(s) Glossy / Shiny
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Oblong)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute
Foliar Base Rounded / Obtuse
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.0 (Tree - Intermediate Canopy)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) White, Yellow / Golden
Flower Texture(s) Smooth
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Cauliflorous
Flower Symmetry Radial
Individual Flower Shape Campaulate / Bell-shaped
Flowering Period A Few Times Yearly
Flowering Opening Time Night (dusk to dawn)
Flower Lifespan on Plant 1 Night

Image Repository



Master ID 1572
Species ID 2865
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 18 February 2022.