Bowl of exotic tropical fruit - Exotic Tropical Fruit - Cape Tribulation Cape Trib Exotic Fruit Farm at Cape Tribulation
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Stories articles and news abot Alison and Digby Gotts


The Samoan Experience
Three days in Tafua
EcoTour Samoa
The Samoan Election
Pruning the Mangoes
Climbing Mt SiliSili
Fourth week in Samoa

Samoan Observer Articles:

Why is there no fruit on my mango?
Want more mangoes next year?
Green oranges or orange oranges?
In search of a Samoan Orange
The Hardest Cut
Rambutan - hairy thing from the forest
Rambutan revisited
Abiu - the emporer's golden fruit
Avocado - fruit or vegetable?
Carambola - star of the rainforest
Durian - the extreme tropical fruit
Rollinia - lemon meringue pies growing in the garden
Sex and the single pawpaw
Soursop - a taste sensation
The mulch story
Do it yourself pest control
The joys of soapy water!
The hungry fruit tree
Positive insects



(One of a series of articles about growing fruit trees in Samoa, written by Digby Gotts and published in the 'Samoa Observer' between December 2000 and April 2001)

My personal philosophy about gardening is to grow what grows, and adapt to enjoying this product. For many people, adapting to enjoy durian may take some effort but this fruit tree is another import that seems to enjoy Samoa even more than its native South East Asia. This king of tropical fruit will only grow in this hot and wet climate and must also have deep, well drained and rich soils.

Durian has a strong smell, particularly from the over ripe fruit. People selling it often keep it away from other foods and sell them off the footpath rather than from inside shops, where the smell can be overpowering. Once you become used to the smell, and actually taste the fruit, the flesh has a rich flavour I find similar to sweet vanilla cream. (Other attempts to describe the flavour include strawberry cream, and cold cooked onions!) I have found that it can take people a few attempts over several years to actually taste the fruit, but then, like me, they are hooked. Love it or hate it, this fruit has a very high market value in Australia and SE Asia as it is much sought after by those who have acquired the taste. Retail values at the moment in Australia are usually around the A$7 to A$10 per kilo range, while here in Samoa I couldn’t even give them away last season.

The few trees that have been brought into Samoa are growing very well, but sometimes do not produce many fruit. The flowers need to have pollen from another tree and very few insects or birds are available in Samoa to do this job. In Australia and SE Asia, the flowers open fully at night and are pollinated by small nectar feeding bats. In Samoa the small sega sega (honeyeaters) have been seen feeding in the flowers in the early morning and this is a hopeful sign. If there are no honeyeaters or other pollinators, then the growers will have to get up with the sun and hand pollinate their flowers to ensure fruit are set. Soils must be well drained to avoid a water borne fungus that attacks the root system, slowly killing the tree. There appear to be no insect pests of this fruit in Samoa.

The fruits themselves can be as big as coconuts, but are covered in very sharp, hard spines, making them difficult to carry in bare hands. At fruit maturity, the stem breaks where it is attached to the tree and the fruit falls to the ground. At this time of year it’s a good idea to wear a hard hat in the durian orchard! When it ripens over the next day or so, the hard shell is split open down lines of weakness to reveal soft white flesh wrapped around a large seed. The flesh is usually eaten immediately but can be frozen or mixed with sugar to make a popular preserved confection.

Trees grown from seed will produce fruit in about 7 years, while grafted trees can fruit in 4 years. Several trees of differing varieties are needed to help fruit set. These trees are available from the MAFFM Fruit Tree Project at Nafanua.


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Last updated November 6, 2014