Limbang is the Suluk Durian Kingdom of amazing orange, yellow, red and sometimes marbled hybrids of D. zibethinus and D. graveolens. But they’re not just random trees — there are grafted Suluk hybrids, just like Musang King or Black Thorn or Puangmanee.
Behind each durian is a story — and behind this flaming sunset durian is a friendship spanning more than 2 decades.
How Limbang Suluk Haji Lamat Was Discovered
Twenty-six years ago Thomas was a new researcher at the Jabatan Pertanian Kubong Research Station.
The young man had never grafted fruit trees before and didn’t have any training in modern agriculture.
Thomas, like many of the young recruits at the Kubong Station, is from the local Bisaya tribe. His formal education stopped at high school, because there are no universities in Limbang, and his family didn’t have the funding to send him to a larger city like Miri or Kota Kinabalu to study.
So he needed to learn the research skills on the job — and he needed more practice.
Haji Ismail was a senior researcher on Thomas’s team.
Behind Haji Ismail’s house was a very old tree that produced an unusual rosy-orange durian, with flesh like a sunset on a particularly smoggy day.
When Thomas asked Haji Ismail if he could practice grafting with the beautiful old durian, Haji Ismail said sure. Thomas produced several surviving grafted seedlings, 5 of which he gifted back to Haji Ismail as a token of thanks.
And a friendship lasting more than two decades was born, as well as a new variety of Suluk durian.
About the Suluk Haji Lamat Mother Tree
The Suluk Haji Lamat mother tree still stands tall in a grove a short walk behind the old house now inhabited by Haji Ismail and his wife, the daughter of Haji Lamat.
Haji Lamat was a Malay man who was born and died without leaving Limbang. Haji Ismail doesn’t have any photos of him, but he remembers that he was very tall.
The story is that Haji Lamat received the seed from a Filipino trader, which is why it’s a “Suluk” — named for the Sulu Archipelago.
Maybe it’s true — or partially true. Durio graveolens species are fairly rare in the Philippines today, but maybe in the past before rampant deforestation these beautiful jungle trees were more common.
How to Identify Suluk Haji Lamat
Suluk Haji Lamat is common in Lawas and Limbang. You’ll see it around the Limbang Tamu (Friday Market) as well as at many roadside stalls, because the Agricultural Department gave out grafted trees of Suluk Haji Lamat in the late 1990’s. Since then, it’s name has been lost, confused with other Suluk varieties also from the Ag Department, or renamed something more creative.
Mr. Lo in Lawas got his tree from Thomas around 2000. He calls it “Suluk 3.”
Madam Ting got her tree around 1990. She isn’t sure what it’s called, just “Suluk.”
So being able to identify this little beauty is an important Durian Hunting skill!
Suluk Haji Lamat is smaller and rounder than many Suluks, which tend toward an elongated shape.
It has a shorter stem, small fine thorns and and a yellowish-green complexion.
Other varieties, like Suluk Margaret Deli (Suluk King) have longer thorns, are larger in general, deeper camouflage green, and are more elongated in shape.
Inside, Suluk Haji Lamat has bulbous pods that are thick, creamy, and a shockingly beautiful deep orange tinged with red.
It looks different than other Suluks, like Suluk Margaret Deli, which has more elongated shape, a thinner flesh, and a lighter, brighter orange color.
Where to find Suluk Haji Lamat
Malaysia Durian Hunting Map
Use this Map or our new Durian App to navigate your way to some Suluk Haji Lamat or more Limbang Durian Suluk!