Singapore Durian (Durio singaporensis) flowers, tree trunk and leaves. Photos: Lua Hock Keong.

by Teresa Teo Guttensohn

Hey kids! Did you know that we have our very own native and rare durian trees in Singapore?

One of them has special leaves and is named after our country. It’s called – you guessed it! – the Singapore Durian (Durio singaporensis). The leaves are green on top and have a metallic brown underside. From below, it looks like a bronze leafy umbrella – how cool is that?

Ripened fruit of the Singapore Durian (Durio singaporensis) from MacRitchie Rainforest. Photo: Aminurashid bin Eksan.

The Singapore Durian grows in our rainforests and can reach 40m high. Too high for you and I to reach the small fruit about the size of a grapefruit. Just as well, as the ripe durian fruit splits open high up on the tree, and forest animals like monkeys love to feed on it. Yum yum!

The seeds have little flesh so humans don’t eat them, which means more food for the wild animals – yeah! This endangered durian tree is found only in Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia.

Can you imagine a tiny, spiky red durian? Our other native Durian tree, Durio griffithii, is no less special, as its teenie-weenie durian fruit is bright, fire-engine red in colour when ripe! The common name for this tree is Durian Burong (burong means bird in Malay) or Squirrel’s Durian. Unfortunately, this rare local durian tree of our forests is endangered as well.

Like people, many wild animals such as small mammals, squirrels and birds love to feed on durian. Did you know that durian flowers are pollinated by bats and moths? Without their help, we would not have our beloved King of Fruits!

Lastly, did you know that we have a fake durian tree? Nope, this is not fake news! We have a super rare mock durian tree… but that’s another story for another day.

Let’s protect our last wilderness of Singapore with all it’s precious wildlife before its too late!

Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Dr Adrian Loo, Lua Hock Keong and Aminurashid bin Eksan for sharing photos, and to Joy Wong for her kind help.

View the Top 10 Endangered Rainforest Species Named After Singapore:

‘Protect Our Last Wilderness’ is a conservation campaign by Cicada Tree Eco-Place. It highlights the pressing need to prevent the disappearance of the island’s last remaining wilderness areas, which are an important buffer against the effects of climate change.  Protecting them is our moral responsibility. Learn more about the campaign today!