How to Choose a HEW1 durian
Just as not all Malaysian durians are Musang King, not all fresh Australian durians from TPP in Darwin are the HEW1.
Every single durian species and registered and unregistered variety has their own external traits. The Musang King D197 is identified by the shape of its flat pyramid-like thorns, and the star on its bum. Some people have been cheated by unscrupulous durian traders in Malaysia who could easily give you the wrong (cheaper) durian, if you don’t know how to ID them.
How do you identify a HEW1 durian?
The HEW1 has a distinct broad convex pyramid thorn shape, with a brown tip. The overall shell colour is a moss green shade, while its shape is generally a filled out ovoid - unless it’s a “sleeping cat” (kuching tidur) shape - or not fully pollinated.
The HEW1 aroma has a strong bittersweet pungency, which you can smell just holding the whole durian up close to your nose. Its stem has a medium thickness and about 3-5cm long.
Once opened, the HEW1 pulp will greet you with its turmeric yellow colour. Its pulp skin is firm, holding a usually creamy, fatty sweet custard centre, and a bittersweet aftertaste. And if you notice the width of the husk, it is usually about 1-2cm thick.
What if you don’t see any fresh Australian Darwin durian with this trait? Then it’s not a HEW1. It could be a HEW2, HEW4, HEW5, D24 seedling, TPP seedling tree no 13426628...
About Tropical Primary Products’ durians
The Siah family have over 3,000 trees in their durian orchard. They’ve spent the last 30 years breeding and grafting, through trial and error, the many budwood, clones or seedlings to withstand the Northern Territory climate.
They brought the HEW1 from their family nursery in Semenyih, Malaysia legally to Australia on an agricultural visa, and have it registered. Among the HEW1, they have also legally brought into Australia many other popular Malaysian clones like the D24, HEW2, HEW4, HEW5, and many other Kampung or popular clone varieties.
Hence the TPP Australian durians are not all HEW1s.
Is Australia’s Kangaroo King comparable to Malaysia’s Musang King?
Durian trees thrive on a consistent hot and humid tropical climate. Malaysia averages 2,500mm rainfall, with a 88% humidity a year. It’s daily temperature ranges between 25-30C all year round.
The Northern Territory averages 1,649mm rainfall, 56% humidity. This year during the durian flowering season, Darwin only received 31.4mm rainfall. This year, the lowest temperature was 4.8C during winter, with a mean temp of 13.7C. Durian trees will usually die from stresss from temps below 13C.
Non-commercial mature fruiting durian trees produce good fruit the older the trees. The Musang King D197 or Raja Kunyit is cloned to produce commercial fruit as a young tree.
In Malaysia, pollinators are mainly bats. Durian trees are usually naturally cross-pollinated by native flowers or surrounding other durian flower varieties.
In Darwin, pollinators are bees and other local insects. Cross pollination is dependant on what native Australian flowers and durian flowers surround them.
Therefore, every durian will become a snapshot of flavour from its surrounding climate, soil, and natural flower pollination during its flowering period.
So the next time you choose to savour a durian by TPP, whether a HEW1 or otherwise, remember you’re having a taste of Darwin.