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Indonesia: Durians without spikes exist, but took a while to reproduce

In Indonesia, durians can be found without spikes, which is great, as its spiky skin makes handling it a hazard. However, other options do exist, in the form of the rare and peculiar durian gundul, or bald durian, which was discovered more than a decade ago in Indonesia.

Scientists have been unable to explain how the bald durian came into existence. According to botanist Gregori Garnadi Hambali, it may be either the result of a natural mutation or recessive genes.

“The chances of this happening are very small … only one in a million,” says Hambali, who works at the Mekarsari Fruit Garden, a biodiversity conservation centre in Bogor, south of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.

first bald durian was recorded in 2007 on the island of Lombok, east of Bali. A single smooth fruit sprouted on a tree in a villager’s yard on the slopes of Mount Rinjani, along with a host of regular spiked durians.

The family were initially afraid to eat the fruit, concerned that it might be poisonous. The following season, when the tree bore another bald durian, the owner’s son decided to taste it, and discovered that it tasted just like any other durian.

The finding was reported to local agriculture officials who, after visiting to inspect the tree, returned to take cuttings. They grafted one onto a tree in the backyard of their complex, hoping that it would produce more of the strange fruit. It took the agriculture office 12 years and many more grafts to get the result they had been looking for.

From the 50 grafts taken in 2007, the provincial agricultural office has been able to produce more than 23,000 seedlings. Many have been sent to other provinces for cultivation, but none of the fruit produced by trees that grew from those seedlings have turned out bald.


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