Two tropical fruits that are similar in appearance, when it comes to choosing between durian vs jackfruit, you can be forgiven for struggling to tell the two apart. However, there are some key differences between these two tropical fruits. Once you learn how to spot these differences you will be able to tell them apart with ease.
While the two fruits are very different, they are often confused for each other. This is largely because both plants are native to Asia. Their fruits, which are similar in appearance, are commonly found for sale alongside each other in Asia food markets.
If you want to learn the differences of durian vs jackfruit this guide will take you through the key differences and similarities. In addition to the botanical differences, we will also discuss the different culinary uses and nutritional benefits of durian vs jackfruit.
Learning about the key differences between these two tropical fruits can help you to decide which fruit you want to grow in your garden or use in your kitchen.
Durian vs jackfruit, what is the difference?
Before we compare durian vs jackfruit, we will begin by exploring each fruit individually.
What is Durian?
The durian is the fruit of the Durio Zibethinus, a tropical evergreen tree. It belongs to the same plant family, the mallow or Bombacaceae plant family, as okra and hibiscus plants. Unlike many members of the Bombacaceae family this tropical tree does not produce showy flowers or woody, seed filled pods. Instead, the plant’s seed is surrounded by fleshy arils.
Best known for its pungent aroma, durian fruit develops encased in a thick, bumpy or thorny protective shell.
The prickly durian shell.
Often eaten raw, it can also be cooked or pureed for use in a range of dishes. Despite its many uses, some people can find the aroma of the fruit overpowering. This means that in some countries the fruit is banned from markets and public places. In Singapore it is also banned from public transportation.
A large fruit, a ripe fruit, can weigh, on average, 2 to 7 pounds.
In favorable conditions Durio Zibethinus plants can reach between 90 and 140 ft in height. The thick trunks of the tree are crowned with dense canopies of evergreen leaves. During the summer months bell shaped flowers emerge in clusters on the older, thicker branches.
Durio Zibethinus trees produce 15 to 800 fruits a year depending on the age of the plant, growing and care conditions. In most areas Durio Zibethinus plants flower from March to June. Fruiting follows from July to September. A second smaller crop of fruit can be harvested from December to February.
Durio Zibethinus trees are thought to be native to Borneo and Sumatra. Today, 90% of the world’s durian fruits are grown in Thailand and Malaysia. In fact, the name durian is derived from the Malay word for thorn.
What is Jackfruit?
A straight trunked evergreen specimen, Artocarpus Heterophyllus can reach a height of 65 to 80 ft. The plants are commonly cultivated in many parts of Asia as well as Australia, Africa and South America. Like the durian, the Artocarpus Heterophyllus sets flowers on older branches.
Artocarpus Heterophyllus fruit forming on the tree.
An unusual looking fruit, the Artocarpus Heterophyllus tree has a thick, rubbery rind which is covered in short, blunt spikes. These tropical trees can produce impressively large fruits, weighing up to 40 pounds. When cut open the fruit can reveal up to 500 viable seeds. With the exception of the core and rind, the entire fruit is edible.
Be careful when handling the fruit of the Artocarpus Heterophyllus plant. Ripe fruits can emit a latex substance that is difficult to wash from hands and clothes.
You can use the ripe fruits in tropical fruit salads. They can also be cooked and are an increasingly popular meat substitute. However, some people find the aroma of the Artocarpus Heterophyllus fruit unpleasant and too sickly sweet. For this reason it can sometimes be banned from sale or consumption in certain areas.
The Artocarpus Heterophyllus plant originates in the western area of the Ghats Mountains which is located in southern India. Today, India is the largest cultivator of Artocarpus Heterophyllus plants in the world.
A healthy and mature Artocarpus Heterophyllus plant can produce between 10 and 200 fruits during the course of a year. Typically the plants produce fruit from March to June, once flowering has finished for the year. In some growing conditions Artocarpus Heterophyllus plants can fruit from April to September.
Both plants are heavy fruiting specimens.
Interestingly, both are long lived plants. A healthy Artocarpus Heterophyllus tree can live, and remain productive for 100 years, while a Durio Zibethinus tree can live for over 200 years.
Now that we have established that they are 2 separate fruits, what exactly are the differences between durian vs jackfruit?
Physical Differences and Botanical Structure
One of the most obvious durian vs jackfruit differences is the shape of the plants. Jackfruit or Artocarpus Heterophyllus trees typically develop into a semi-circular shape. Durio Zibethinus trees are more triangular or pyramid-like in shape.
The trunk of the Artocarpus Heterophyllus tree typically measures 12 to 31 inches in diameter. Durio Zibethinus tree trunks are thicker, roughly 60 inches in diameter. They are also taller.
Durio Zibethinus trees are capable of reaching up to 165 ft in height. This means that they can dwarf the smaller Artocarpus Heterophyllus plant, which typically achieves a more modest height of 60 to 70 ft.
The foliage of each plant differs slightly.
Both plants produce glossy, dark green foliage. The thick green leaves of the Artocarpus Heterophyllus tree typically measure between 6 and 8 inches in length. Whilst similar in color, the leaves of the Durio Zibethinus plant more closely resemble those of the coffee plant than those of the Artocarpus Heterophyllus.
All parts of the Artocarpus Heterophyllus contain latex. The ripe fruits of the plant also contain the substance. This is not true of the Durio Zibethinus plant.
Floral and Pollination Differences
Artocarpus Heterophyllus flowers have fleshy, upright petals. These grow directly from the tree trunk.
The petals of the Durio Zibethinus flower droop down towards the ground. The blooms of this plant cluster together, following pollination the fruit forms on the branches of the plant. In contrast Artocarpus Heterophyllus flowers form in cluster on the trunk
The flowers of the Durio Zibethinus plant are either male or female. They require cross-pollination for fruit to form. Artocarpus Heterophyllus plants produce both male and female flowers, this means that the plant does not require cross-pollination.
The durian fruit contains one inch-long oval seed. The seed of the Artocarpus Heterophyllus fruit is larger, it is similar in shape to sunflower seeds.
A Durio Zibethinus seed remains viable for just a few days after harvest. Not only do Artocarpus Heterophyllus fruits produce more seeds, the seeds also remain viable for longer.
If stored correctly the seeds remain viable for up to a month after harvest. Correctly storing the seeds in a cool, dry location helps to keep them viable for as long as possible. A Lola Creates Seed Storage Tin is a good investment if you want a handy way to keep your seeds safe and organized.
Durio Zibethinus seeds do not remain viable for long.
Durian vs Jackfruit Fruit
Despite both plants producing fruits with bumpy skin, another botanical aspect where durian vs jackfruit differ is the structure of the fruit. If you are handling either fruit, you may want to wear protective gloves. This is particularly true of durian fruit which is covered in spiky thorns.
The shell of the jackfruit is more bumpy than thorny in texture. Both fruits can be oblong or oval in shape. However, the fruit of the Durio Zibethinus tree tends to be slightly rounder.
The main difference when comparing durian vs jackfruit fruit is the size. The latter is, as you may know, the largest commercially grown fruit in the world. A single fruit can weigh 55 pounds on average. In contrast, the former rarely weighs more than 7 or 8 pounds.
As we have previously mentioned, all parts of the Artocarpus Heterophyllus plant, including the fruit, contain latex. Durio Zibethinus plants do not contain latex.
Durio Zibethinus trees produce fruit with an edible flesh that can be either a buttery yellow, red, pink or white color. The pale yellow edible flesh of the jackfruit is typically paler. It is similar in color to the flesh of a banana.
The interior of the durian fruit is divided into 5 pods. Each pod holds a portion of edible flesh and round seeds. Cutting open a jackfruit reveals several bulb shaped sections. Each section contains an oval seed that is surrounded by edible fruit.
The interior of a durian fruit.
An unripe durian fruit can taste rich or bittersweet. Jackfruit pulp is said to taste like a cross between mango, pineapple, and banana.
The fruit of the Artocarpus Heterophyllus plant can smell musky or fruity. In contrast the fruit of the Durio Zibethinus plant has a pungent, unpleasant odor.
Durian vs Jackfruit Growing Requirements
While both fruits are the products of tropical plants, the growing preferences of each plant differ slightly. In the wild, Artocarpus Heterophyllus trees prefer to grow in the humid lowlands of Southern India. In contrast the Durio Zibethinus tree thrives in the rainforests of southeast Asia.
Durio Zibethinus trees require a richer soil than the Artocarpus Heterophyllus plant, which doesn’t need a rich soil to thrive. If you are cultivating the plants in your garden or allotment, the Artocarpus Heterophyllus plant grows best in a loamy or well draining potting soil.
Artocarpus Heterophyllus plants prefer warmer conditions than Durio Zibethinus plants. While Durio Zibethinus plants grow best in temperatures averaging between 75 and 86 ℉, Artocarpus Heterophyllus plants tolerate temperatures up to 120 ℉.
If you are growing your own plant, the Artocarpus Heterophyllus can tolerate a little or light frost. Classified as hardy in USDA Zones 10 to 12, the plants should be moved into a greenhouse if you are cultivating in an area that enjoys cold winters.
If your garden only experiences light frosts, the roots and base of the plant can be protected with a thick layer of mulch or horticultural fleece. Smaller specimens can also be protected with a MIXC Blanket Protection Shrub Jacket.
Exposing Durio Zibethinus trees to temperatures below 45 ℉ can damage or kill the plant.
Durio Zibethinus plants require regular water and humidity levels of over 70% to thrive. Similarly, Artocarpus Heterophyllus plants require regular moisture and high humidity levels to thrive. A DOQAUS Digital Humidity Meter monitors humidity and temperature levels around your plants.
It can take 3 to 4 years for an Artocarpus Heterophyllus plant to mature and start producing fruits. Durio Zibethinus plants take longer. These plants can require up to 10 years of steady growth before they are mature enough to start producing edible fruit.
Finally, Durio Zibethinus plants produce just one crop of fruit a year. The Artocarpus Heterophyllus tree produces 2 crops during the season.
Durian v Jackfruit Commercial Growth and Uses
Both plants are commonly grown throughout Asia on small farms alongside other fruiting trees. Here both plants are primarily grown for their edible fruit.
Interestingly, in Malaysia where the Durio Zibethinus tree is the more common commercially grown of the two plants it is actually the fruit of the Artocarpus Heterophyllus tree that is the more popular of the two fruits.
While both are commercial crops, Artocarpus Heterophyllus trees are more profitable than the fruits of the Durio Zibethinus tree because they have a wider range of culinary uses.
Both fruits are edible.
The fruits of both trees are commonly found for sale at Asian markets. They can also be found for sale in larger food markets.
The fruit of the Durio Zibethinus tree is banned from some markets because of its overpowering aroma. Jackfruit doesn’t have this problem. Additionally, the jackfruit is a popular meat substitute. The unripe fruit has a stringy texture which is similar to pork.
Unlike the Durio Zibethinus tree, the jackfruit plant also has other uses. Its wood can be used to make furniture and musical instruments such as the udaki drum.
Durian vs Jackfruit, Culinary Uses
Jackfruit is a sweeter and more versatile fruit than durian.
Jackfruit can be used in many sweet and salty fishes. Unripe or green fruits can be used in salads, soups and as a meat substitute. The ripe fruit can be used in fresh fruit salads or pulped to flavor ice cream.
Jackfruit is a versatile culinary ingredient.
Durian has a unique flavor which combines sweetness with savory and sometimes salty notes. It is often compared to the flavor of scrambled eggs. Unripe fruits are said to taste like chicken.
The fruit is often used to add flavor to sweet dishes. An acquired taste, the fruits can also be used in sticky rice or to flavor ice cream.
Unripe or green fruits are both tasteless and odorless. The green fruit can be turned into chips, breads or eaten as a fresh snack.
Jackfruit seeds are edible. The taste is similar to almonds or raw sunflower seeds. Durian seeds are not edible.
Durian vs Jackfruit, Nutritional Benefits
Both of these tropical fruits are rich in nutrients.
As well as being a good source of dietary fibers and Vitamin C durian fruits are a rich source of Vitamin B. In contrast the jackfruit is a good source of Vitamins A, E, B5 and B6.
The jackfruit contains trace amounts of fiber and protein. It is also rich in riboflavin, folates, copper, potassium and manganese. Additionally, the seeds have laxative, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties.
A ripe jackfruit is a good source of antioxidants which can fight cancer and heart disease. It can also help in the fight against cataracts and macular degeneration.
Both fruits are rich in vitamins and nutrients.
Similarly the durian fruit can be used to treat high blood pressure. It is not only low in saturated fat it also registers low down on the glycemic index, making it a good choice for diabetics and people worried about high glucose levels.
Nutrients contained in durian fruit can help to boost your mood, improve your skin and help keep your hair healthy. The fruit is also a good source of nutritious elements including thiamine, folate, niacin and magnesium.
Medicinally the fruit can be used to combat cancer, obesity, heart disease and diabetes. It is also used to improve digestion, treat insomnia, anxiety, depression and high blood pressure.
While similar in appearance, there are some key differences between these two plants.
When considering durian vs jackfruit it is important to remember that while the two fruits look similar they are actually completely different. Growing from entirely different plant families, the fruits of the two plants do not taste alike and one can not be used as a substitute for the other.
Now that you are able to identify the differences between the two you can decide which is best for your garden or kitchen.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.