Note: This guide to Philippines durian varieties was originally posted in 2012. It’s one of the most popular posts on this site, and you can now see it reposted all over the interwebs both with and without my permission. When I visited the Philippines in August 2016, I decided it was time for an update. So, if you decide to copy-paste this new guide anywhere, please give a link for credit. Thanks!
How to Use This Guide
Below you’ll find, in alphabetical order, the 18 Philippines durian varieties that I have consumed plus my To-Find-and-Eat List.
Each entry has a link to blog posts where you can find out more about where I ate them, and where you can get them too.
| GD-69 |
Many people in the Philippines are still discovering durian. The fruit can grow throughout the islands, but due to typhoons and extreme weather, more than 90% of Philippines durian is grown on the more sheltered island of Mindanao in the south. Some is also grown in the Sulu Archipelago and a few other hotspots, especially Los Baños on Luzon.
(If Peter Salleras’s trellising method works out, this may soon change).
Today, most varieties of durian in the Philippines have obvious ancestry from Thai durian varieties. Puyat, the Kobs, Duyaya, Alcon Fancy, and GD-69 are all obvious descendents.
More recently, Malaysian durians have become popular too, like D101, D24, Red Prawn, and the unidentified “Malaysian.”
The Philippines also has durians you won’t find anywhere else, particularly the only truly Thornless Durian.
Today it’s easiest to find durian varieties that originated elsewhere, but the Philippines actually led the way on durian breeding.
If you can believe it, we would not have such delicacies as D24 or Musang King without a little breakthrough that happened at the Lamao Experiment Station around 1914.
It involves a white guy who loved durian. Also some colonial squabbles.
After the United States
occupied liberated the Philippines from Spanish rule following the Spanish-American War, they sent botanists from the USDA Bureau of Plant Industry to survey how to best exploit develop Philippines agricultural resources.
One guy, Peter Jansen Wester (who was, if you can believe it, originally Swedish), became interested in durian. In 1914, he published Recent Experiments in shield budding tropical fruits at the Lamao experiment station. This is the first reference to anyone grafting durian that I have been able to find.
Several botanists in Malaysia commented on Wester’s work, and shortly began experimenting with making Malaysian varieties.
However, most of the varieties available today in the Philippines were started from seeds brought in from Thailand in the late 1970’s and 80’s.
Officers from BPI went out searching for improved varieties in the local areas starting in the late 1980’s. Most Philippines durian varieties were registered with BPI between 1990 and 2000.
So the Philippines was both really early and kind of late on the durian scene. Either way, we have the Philippines to thank for the following deliciousness:
“That looks suspiciously familiar,” I said when I saw Alcon Fancy for the first time. It’s small thorns, green color, and bright, canary yellow flesh looked a lot like another durian variety in Thailand.
No small wonder. See Danny Abad tell the story of Alcon Fancy in the video below:
Danny Abad is the owner of Alcon Farms, a nursery and fruit farm in Calinan, near Davao City. “Alcon” is a portmanteau of Danny’s parent’s names, Alfonso and Conchita. Danny discovered Alcon Fancy while working for BPI in the 1980’s.
At the time, many farmers were converting their farm to banana plantations for Dole. Danny and his horticultural buddy, Virgilio Loquias, were concerned about losing the genetic diversity available on the farms. They received funding from the World Bank to collect the best durian varieties in the Philippines and went on a scouting mission around the islands to find them.
Alcon Fancy is suspected to be a seedling of the Thai variety Kradum Thong. It’s sweet, with a light margarine-like texture and almost no bitterness. He registered it with the Philippines government in 1997.
When Early July
Where I ate it Laguna, Luzon Island. Also available from Alcon Farms in Tugbok.
Arancillo (ACC. 1497)
One of my top picks for Philippines durian, Arancillo combines the strong flavor and bitterness of the native with thicker flesh and a smooth, silky texture. It’s usually an off-white color, almost ivory, color with few, very fine wrinkles.
It was registered in 1995 with the Philippines government, and the rumor is that it was named for former BPI-Phil Fruits director Vicente Arancillo. I can’t tell if I started that rumor or not, but it is oft-repeated around the internet, the wording copy-pasted from the original version of this post.
Unfortunately, I can’t find any evidence that Arancillo actually worked for BPI. He appears to have been a director for the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) instead. I’m still looking for him.
It’s said that Arancillo is a seedling of the Thai Chanee, although that also seems unlikely. While it is one of the preferred durians by taste, Arancillo has a tendency to rot in heavy rain and is not a recommended variety for export.
Where I ate it D’Farmer’s Market in Davao City, Mindanao
It’s fairly common. It’s always a huge, round durian with a high flesh-to-seed ratio, probably a seedling of something from Thailand.
The name probably encompasses a number of varieties, and refers more to its big round shape than a specific breed.
Where I ate it Magsaysay Durian Park
The Cojuangcos are one of the most influential families in the Philippines.
Where I ate it Kalivungan Festival in Kidapawan, Mindanao
It’s not as fleshy as some of the others, but who cares when it tastes better? It’s basically whipped cream encased in a fragile skin. Just make sure it’s really, really fresh.
I’ve eaten D101 often in Malaysia. The best I had this year was at the Jawi Pesta Durian in Penang.
Where I ate it Rosario’s Davao City
This is another Malaysian durian cultivar that has become popular in the Philippines. It’s relatively easy to find at the right time of year, although not as common as Puyat, Arancillo, or the ubiquitous Basketball.
D24s tend to be reliably good, so it’s usually a win-situation if you can find some.
Where I ate it Magsaysay Durian Park and at Tagum City
Durio graveolens is a wild durian species. It was introduced to Mindanao by BPI (Bureau of Plant Industries) from the island of Palawan. There are three different varieties, each with a different color interior: one red, one orange, and one yellow. The orange one is most common.
It is sold under a variety of names, such as Borneo Sunset.
It’s a very small durian, but expensive. Each fruit can sell anywhere from 50 pesos each to 200 pesos each, depending on your desperation and the vendor’s honesty.
The texture is denser than a normal durian, with the smoothness and thickness of a cream cheese. It’s nutty, less sweet than normal durian, and has a very powerful odor. I love this durian.
Where I ate it SM EcoLand, Davao City and BPI in Calinan
A bright yellow durian that is possibly the heftiest durian with one of the highest flesh-to-seed ratio of all durians. Some estimate up to 55% flesh-to-seed, although it’s probably somewhere in the 40’s%.
When I originally posted this Philippines Durian Varieties Guide, I got the story behind the durian’s name that is wrong.
You can see the durian’s creator, Mr. Severino Belviz, talk about his durian in this video. Make sure you have the subtitles turned on as his voice is very quiet.
Mr. Belviz named the durian in 1999, when the durian was registered with BPI. According to him, Duyaya is a portmanteau of Durian and Biyaya, which means “Blessing,” because Belviz saw the durian as a blessing to his family.
Where I ate it Belviz Durian Farm
His durian, though, is not hard to find. It’s one of the plumpest, fleshiest durian with up to 40% flesh-to-seed ratio. The flavor is sweet, fibrous, and not too fatty, most likely a relative of a Monthong.
It’s so fleshy, the durian often has problems with uneven ripening and wet core, making it hard to find a good quality fruit. It’s commonly used to make durian chips and other products.
Where I ate it Rosario’s, Davao City Mindanao
It was also the last durian I tasted. After this Kob, I decided not to taste any other durians, because when you’ve reached the peak, everything else is downhill. I left Davao the next day anyway.
Kob White is a white 0r pearly-grey fleshed durian with an elongated shape. It’s extremely fatty and dense and very bitter. Yum yum.
Where I ate it D’Farmer’s Market, Davao
Kob Yellow is a mild durian that’s not too sweet. “Manila people like this one,” the farmer who gave it to us commented. He meant that the odor is not too strong. We found it very pleasant.
Where I ate it Larry’s Durian Farm, Davao
It’s a sweet, mild durian with a slightly nutty flavor.
Where I ate it Belviz Farm, Davao
The quality of Native varies a lot. There are certain trees that are so good they have acquired names of their own and a fair bit of notoriety, like D’Farmers Durian For the Priest, or Mamer and Atabrine.
Often, Natives fall from trees that are really, really old, because no one plants Natives anymore. The fruit in the photo above is from a tree that is certainly over 100 years old.
The characteristics that Natives share are flesh that is almost always white or extreely pale, very thin over a lot of seeds, and with a strong alcoholic flavor. It’s often sold at various stages of overripe, so it’s important to keep an eye (and nose) out to quality check. It’s also the cheapest durian.
Where I ate it Random cart in Times Beach, Davao City, also at Belviz Farm
Puyat is the Philippine’s main commercial durian variety. It’s exported to Singapore and China and is the main durian variety you’ll find if you visit Davao City when it’s not technically durian season. It will probably be the first durian variety exported to the United States (we hope very soon).
Puyat is pretty obviously a seedling of Chanee, from Thailand. It’s distinct from Chanee, having more of a pear-shape and browner thorns, and flesh with a hint of pink, but it tastes awfully similar. It’s one of the fattiest, fleshiest durians, with the strong sweet flavor but less harsh metallic bitterness of a Chanee. The riper the durian, the more metal it tastes like.
It’s story is about as sketchy as they come, including such tall tales as Israeli mercenaries guarding the orchard, theft, ruin, and the Puyats, a family of politicians who made their money from billiards. Whatever of that is true, the Puyats are no longer in the durian business.
Where I ate it Abreeza, Davao City
Red Prawn is a famous Malaysian durian from Penang Island. It’s one of the most expensive and sought after fruits, so it’s little wonder it made its way over to the Philippines. Compared to other varieties, it’s still pretty rare, but it’s around.
What makes Red Prawn so desirable is it’s absolute lack of fiber. It’s like a pillow of cream, each pod a delicate sack that can and will erupt with soft, cherry-flavored flesh that you have to suck rather than chew.
I assume this one will get more popular in the Philippines with time.
Where I ate it Jemapi Farm, Tagum City, Mindandao
It’s pretty obviously a descendent of Ganyao, with the same round shape, small thorns, and long stem. The flesh is a darker yellow, but equally firm and a bit bready.
Fans of Ganyao should seek this one out.
Where I ate it Belviz Farm, Davao
Swarscoff was discovered on the Hijo Plantation in Madaum, Tagum District, in the early 1990’s. When the tree was young, it’s trunk had a distinct pattern that reminded the workers of the camo uniforms worn by Desert Storm soldiers. It was named for General Norman Schwartzkopf Jr., who led the coalition forces in the Gulf War and probably never knew he had a durian named in his honor (he died in 2012).
An alternate story is that the camouflage coloring reminded people of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who donned camo in the 1985 movie Commando. According to Larry Miculob, President of the Durian Industry Council of Davao City, this story is not correct. Miculob worked at Hijo Plantation between 1986-1996, and he remembers finding this durian tree.
Where I ate it D’Farmer’s Market, Davao
Smooth as a wooden grapefruit, this durian was discovered in the Compostela Valley in Mindanao. It’s believed to be a mutant of Durio zibethinus. It’s small; slightly smaller than a pomelo, and you can successfully bring it inside malls and other air-conditioned areas because the guards do not recognize it as a durian.
Watch me taste it (Video)
On the inside, it looks like a Native durian, with thin white flesh, a lot of small pale seeds, and a sweet flavor.
Where I found it SM Lanang, Philippines
Umali is another durian that originated at the University of Los Banos (UPLB). It was named for Dioscoro L. Umali, who was the dean between 1959-1969 and is also known as “The Father of Philippines Plant Breeding.” His decade of power at UPLB is referred to as the “Umali Years.”
Umali has a lot in common with D24. It’s smooth and fatty tasting, without being too sweet. It has the same pleasant, milky and slightly bitter flavor as eating solid cream. Delightful.
Where I found it: Kidapawan City, Mindanao
The flavor reminded me a bit of Ang Jin, or like a Kun Poh without the coffee undertone, with the light orangey-grey like Johor Red Prawn.
Where I ate it Los Banos, Luzon
Durians I’m Still Looking For
Luckily, I haven’t tasted all the Philippines Durians yet, so I still have an excuse to return and go hunting. Here are a few on my To-Eat List.
- Atabrine (DES 806) Registered to Romy Francisco in Davao City in 1992.
- DES – 1545 Domingo Sotilleza, Davao City
- Lacson Uno Registered by Simeon Latayan
- Lacson Dos
- Malagkit BAEX Nursery in Bukidnon
- Mamer (DES 916) A type of native from Barangay Serib and Barangay Dumalang in Calinan. It was named after Mamerto Fernandez and has an edible portion as high as 25 percent!
- Malaysian ?
- S-7 and S-1 Grown by Jill Sandique in Cotabato
- Soriano/Oboza Similar to Monthong, they’re not popular because of tendency to rot. Found on Alcon Farm.