What have we been missing? There are some 30 species of durians out there and we’ve barely tried a third of them? In fact, some species of durian are so rare, enthusiasts travel from all over the world to places like Borneo and Sarawak to catch a glimpse of them. As durian lovers ourselves, we delve deep into the thorny world to sniff out some of the rarest seeds out there. But until we’ve had the privilege of sampling these species, we are relying on our research to describe their smell and taste profile.
Hands up those who thought these were jumbo rambutans. These red, thorny fruit are actually Durio Dulcis or red-shelled durians. Found only in Borneo, the Durio Dulcis are so rare they have been listed on the IUCN list of endangered species. These fruits are seldom planted by farmers due to their short fruiting spurts.
The Dulcis is said to have an intense flavour that lingers in your mouth long after you have devoured its soft, almost marshmellow-like flesh.
This is one durian you wouldn’t want to try but we included it in our list so you wouldn’t confuse it with the Dulcis. The Griffithi is another species of red or orange shelled durian. The latter is said to be non-edible not because its flesh is poisonous but because it is tasteless, making it rather unpalatable. The Griffithican be found in Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo
Durio Testudinarum or Durian Kura Kura
According to Borneo Post, this species of durian is so rare that tourists from Malaysia and other countries flock to Indonesia to get a glimpse of it.
We sure hope those tourists got a taste of the pale yellow or brown-shelled Kura Kura, which is often described as less sweet compared to regular durians and produces quite a ‘stink’. The waxy, fibrous flesh of the Kura Kura resembles that of a jackfruit and has a strong musky flavour.
But what’s really unique about the Kura Kura is that it flowers and bears fruit at the lower portion of the tree trunk, forming an impression that they’re ‘hugging’ the circumference of the trunk. Ever heard of the phrase “low-hanging fruit”? Maybe it originated from the Kura Kura.
Durio Graveolens or Durian Merah
The Durian Merah looks just like any regular durian from the outside. But crack open its shell and you’ll see the red velvet cake of durians with its crimson red flesh. Of all the rare durian species, we are most eager to sample this particular one, as its flesh is described as being sweet and alcoholic with a ‘provoking’ scent. (Reminds us of cocktails, somehow). Fortunately for us, the Durian Merah is available at some markets in Borneo so sampling this type of durian is actually quite possible.
With its zesty green spikes and almost perfect round shape, we think the Kinabaluensis is the prettiest of the lot.
Its slightly thinner sweet yellow flesh is said to be similar in flavour and aroma to the milder tasting durians. Curious to try the fruit? Trek 1,300 metres up the steep hillsides of Borneo’s Crocker Mountain Range where the Kinabaluensis thrive.