Some people regard the durian as having a pleasantly sweet fragrance; others find the aroma overpowering with an unpleasant odour. The smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust, and has been described variously as rotten onions, turpentine, and raw sewage. The persistence of its odour, which may linger for several days, has led to the fruit's banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in Southeast Asia.
The durian, native to Southeast Asia, has been known to the Western world for about 600 years. The nineteenth-century British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace described its flesh as "a rich custard highly flavoured with almonds". The flesh can be consumed at various stages of ripeness, and it is used to flavour a wide variety of savoury and sweet edibles in Southeast Asian cuisines. The seeds can also be eaten when cooked.
Durian trees are large, growing to 25–50 metres (80–164 ft) in height depending on the species. The leaves are evergreen, elliptic to oblong and 10–18 centimetres (4–7 in) long. The flowers are produced in three to thirty clusters together on large branches and directly on the trunk with each flower having a calyx (sepals) and five (rarely four or six) petals. Durian trees have one or two flowering and fruiting periods per year, although the timing varies depending on the species, cultivars, and localities. A typical durian tree can bear fruit after four or five years. The durian fruit can hang from any branch and matures roughly three months after pollination. The fruit can grow up to 30 centimetres (12 in) long and 15 centimetres (6 in) in diameter, and typically weighs one to three kilograms (2 to 7 lb). Its shape ranges from oblong to round, the colour of its husk green to brown, and its flesh pale-yellow to red, depending on the species.
Well known as the King of Fruits, the name "durian" is derived from the Malay-Indonesian languages word for duri or "spike". Some people regard the durian as having a pleasantly sweet fragrance; others find the aroma overpowering with an unpleasant odour.
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