Tuesday, June 09, 2009

5 places where you still find durian trees in Singapore

Reading YG’s recent article about the Bukit Brown Cemetery brought back some memories of the nearby Adam Road and Lornie Road. During my school days, I often travel along this road. I think it was an alternative route to get to my school - ACS - from my kampong home in Lorong Chuan.

I remember one occasion when our bus passed the Kheam Hock Road junction and I saw parts of a coffin – you know those huge Chinese type - sticking out of the earth. That image stayed in my mind for a long time. At that time they were probably widening Adam Road. I wonder if younger Singaporeans know that at one time, on both sides of Adam Road there were cemeteries.

I also remember seeing many beautiful croton plants with colourful red and yellow leaves. I like this plant. But since it is often associated with cemeteries, (even in Malaysia) not many people grow them in their gardens.

Another thing I remember about this part of Singapore was the kampong houses just after Kheam Hock Road. This would the area between Kheam Hock Road and the PIE. I was especially attracted by the sight of the rambutan and durian trees growing there.

Durian trees are now a rare sight in Singapore, and so I was quite surprised and delighted to see one in Chancery Lane the other day. That gave me the idea to start a meme (I hope that is the correct term) about durian trees.

I will list 5 places where you can still find durian trees growing in Singapore, and challenge fellow bloggers to continue the list in their blogs. I doubt Victor would be ‘taking up the challenge’ because his main interest seems to be another area and not plants; but I am pretty sure YG will be happy to continue with this meme. This guy seems to be exploring Singapore everyday and knows our island like the back of his hand; including places which I thought would no longer interest retired teachers. So here goes.

1) Lorong Chencharu. I took this photo a few years ago whilst on a visit to the AVA Sembawang Research Station to get a permit or something for the pitcher plants that my son and his friends imported from Australia.

2) Woodlands Street 13. I have blogged about this before here.
3) Chancery Lane. This tree has many enticing durians and is clearly visible from the main road. It is actually in somebody’s garden.

4) Brizay Park. This tree is in the garden of a huge bungalow at the junction of Brizay Park and Wilby Road. It certainly looks like a durian tree to me, but strange …. there are no fruits to be seen even though it is durian season.

5) This house is next to a car park near Upper East Coast Road. Peter took this photo when we went for lunch recently in that area. I am afraid, I am not sure of the exact location.

PS – It’s such a coincidence that YG has just posted something about a durian trees here.


pinto said...

Hmmm... the only durian trees I know of are on Pulau Ubin.

And yes, meme is the correct term. =)

Icemoon said...

I wonder Botanic Garden has durian tree or not? :P

Icemoon said...

More geography than trees for me. :)

> At that time they were probably widening Adam Road. I wonder if younger Singaporeans know that at one time, on both sides of Adam Road there were cemeteries.

Chun See, do you mean Lornie Road or Adam Road? Today Adam Road ends where Adam Drive meets PIE exit. The roadside cemetery is at Kheam Hock-Lornie junction.

Lam Chun See said...

As far as I know, Lornie Road ends at the junction with Kheam Hock Road. After that it is Adam Road. The kampong houses and durian trees I am referring to are at the patch of land between Kheam Hock Road and the present PIE towards Changi; i.e. behind the bus stop. It is still partly cemetery.

On the other side of Adam Road, the graves were between Sime Road and Adam Drive.

Victor said...

>I doubt Victor would be ‘taking up the challenge’ because his main interest seems to be another area and not plants

But if your meme is 'about places where you can eat durians' or 'types of durians', then I am game.

>It certainly looks like a durian tree to me, but strange …. there are no fruits to be seen even though it is durian season.

Don't durian trees have sex? (Sorry, I can't avoid mentioning that word on this family blog as I can't find an euphemism to replace that word.) What I mean is, are there male and female durian trees and do they both bear fruits?

Lam Chun See said...

Very interesting. I checked my 1981 street directory. The kampong that I saw was called Jalan Berahi; off Kheam Hock Road and there was s school that was called Chin Chung Public School right there beside the PIE.

Lester Ledesma said...

Punggol road towards the end... I was just there last week and there were at least half a dozen durian and cotton trees :)

Anonymous said...

there is one in sunset way. near the railway bridge.



Lam Chun See said...

That second tree has so many fruits!!!

Too bad we went there last year at the wrong time :(

Anonymous said...

Chuck says:
During the 70's me and my friend would go harvesting durians. Mind you, those durian trees belongs to others. A friend of mine is a great tree climber. (Not surprising cos he grow up in a kampong) With a crash helmet, he would climb up the durian trees in the middle of the night. After reaching the highest point of the tree possible, he will start shaking the tree branches with his legs and hands. Those about to ripe durians will fall after some shaking and those 'pop' 'pop' sound of durians falling were sweet music to our ears.
However those fallen durian by shaking is best eaten the next day.

yg said...

chun see, like you, i used to think that durian trees are rare in singapore. however, if you are into exploring ulu places like i do, you would come to realise that durian trees are not that rare at all.
the lorong chencharu place that you mentioned still have quite a number of durian trees. they are within the area managed by the bottletree park.
even at your favourite park - macritchie reservoir park - there is at least one durian tree. it is beside the overspill canal, close to the pumping station 2.
bukit batok nature and choa chu kang parks both have durian trees within the parks.
even at the dairy farm nature park, there are some durian trees near the car-park nearer to petir road. the day before i left s'pore for melbourne i saw one man emerging from the forest carrying a durian.
in the lim chu kang area, there are a few places where you can find durian trees, e.g. kranji way, neo tiew lane 2, neo tiew road, jln gemala 2 and some of the lim chu kang lanes. along jalan bahtera, the road leading to the moe adventure campsite, camp christine and the sarimbun camp, there are also some durian trees.
another place where you can find quite a number of durian trees is the durian loop near the murnane reservoir.
sorry, i do not have photos to prove that all these exist.

Lam Chun See said...

Yes. I am aware that there are many durian trees in the forested areas of Spore. In fact, the Beware of Falling Durians sign can be found in many parks, but I don't recall seeing one near the MacRitchie overflow pump station that you mentioned. But I have seen monkeys feeding on the rambutans trees there.

That reminds me, I should add my photo of the 'falling durians' sign.

My son who has been training recently at the Marsiling/Lor Asrama area told me there are a lot of durian trees there as well.

Anyway, I suspect many of our readers are like Kenneth who don't know about these places.

peter said...

u want mango come to Upper East Coast; from Evergreen Gardens to Parbury Road. I saw many who sell in the market come here to harvest. 2 months ago, mangoes fall to the ground like nobody business. If u want the best coconut to drink (yello type) come to Bedok Canal. if you want to harvest lala come to Bedok Canal (behind Beodk Methodist Church) at low tide - 1kg in supermakret is $4.80. I sell special price.

Jawker said...

There're Durian Trees at Yishun Park too. Saw them while I was taking a walk there.


None said...

There's plenty durians at Seletar (near Devil's bend), Bukit Batok, Rifle Range Rd, Punggol (road going towards the end), last but not least..Mandai... u can find hordes of vehicles parked along the side at these locations, lots of torch wielding men with sacks. Even the malaria warning recently don't scare.

pck said...

Are ang mo durians the same as durians? Anybody knows?

Icemoon said...

I think ang mo durians are soursops. Am I right?

Lam Chun See said...

Yes, soursop is correct.

I was at MacRitchie this afternoon for my brisk walking exercise with Chuck and we saw a durian tree with many fruits at the hill top area next to the food kiosk and toilets.

sgporc said...

There are durian trees in Mowbray Camp too. A few trees on the hillslopes facing Clementi road, but I've only seen them bear fruits once. The most amusing fact about this was that the RSM ordered triple-concertina wires around the trees. They must have been the most protected durian trees around. Guard duty prowlers were even instructed to look out for intruders, but instead took the opportunity to sneak a few for themselves... guess how I knew??? :)

Zen said...

While working in Sembawang, one day I noticed along the main road there was an abandoned farm which was to be later acquired by HDB for building flats(now part of Yishun estate). In this farm there was a hut, and in the vicinity there were many rambutan trees (full of ripen fruits). Few goats were seen grazing leisurely on the surrounding grass patches. No prohibitive signs were put out by the authority against trespassers and yet no one was keen enough to of pluck the fruits. I was thinking could it be that nowadays not many people like to climb trees or even bother to use a pole to harvest the 'inviting' fruits. The scene was a far cry from those in the kampong days, vividly related by chuck that even durian trees could not deter those brave souls from risking their limbs to get those forbidden fruits. When I reached office, I told this fruit encountering to one of my older general workers who promptly went there and harvested a huge sack of sweet juicy rambutans for the staff to enjoy.

Lam Chun See said...

Sgporc. That durians @ Mowbray must be very tasty for your RSM to be so protective. I don't suppose you are able to confirm are you?

Anyway, I think human nature is such that the concertina wires may well achieve the opposite effect. In fact the Mandai area which Ah 9 mentioned is probably with the restricted SAF training areas.

pregger said...

i like you site name :) Good morning yesterday,Are you guys a big fan of durian ??

Lam Chun See said...

They say that for durians, you either love it or hate it. So I guess most of us are big fans.

None said...

Yes Mr Lam,

The Mandai area i mentioned were within training areas, but u could see at least 10 vehicles park along the way at night. Lots of "uncles" , 30+, 40+ with torches going deep. Keeping watch, sometimes with candles marking their "territory".

The other s.gedong areas, not much people, but mosquitos very fierce. The itch comes one day after, and usually resulting in scratch bleeding. -_-"

Tom said...

Tom said ...
Zen If my memory serves me right , Iam sure I use to pick Rambutans From trees on the upper Changi road, they are one my best fruits I loved eating them , if I see them in any of the shops over
in Edinburgh in Scotland I will buy them but they very dear to buy here.The Durian I can remember eating A bit of that fruit, I believe it smells to the heavens, and its is the king of all fruits.they say.

pck said...

I was told that ang mo durian is another species of durian with yellowish skin and the flesh of the fruit is red like a Ang Mo! You can see pics of these red cloured durians at:-
If these are not ang mo durians, what do you call them? Anybody knows?

Unknown said...

After a hearty (heaty?!) meal of durians, never forget to drink salt water and have mangosteens as "dessert".

Chun See, where can we find mangosteen trees in Singapore? :P

Tom said...

Tom said ..
Icemoon , How can you drink Salt water , after eating durians oh no, I Think Drinking the salt water would make me sick.

Victor said...

Tom, quite a lot of durian lovers believe that drinking water with a little salt added will help lessen the heatiness. They think that it will be especially effective if the water is drunk from the hollow of a durian husk. I don't know if there is any scientific basis for doing so.

Mangosteen is also supposed to bring down the heatiness caused by eating too much durians.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

And there's one along Chancery Road. Turn in from Bukit Timah Road and find it on the right hand side of the road, not far from Mr. S. Rajaratnam's home.
My wife, a durian lover, eyes it everytime we pass by to get home. We're going there one night to steal some.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Yes, sorry sir. It's the same one. I missed reading that part of your blog. Looks like I have to look for another.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

The one at Chancery fruits but someone has been taking them. My wife tells me there's one behind a bungalow house at Barker Road and visible from my apartment next door.
Sorry Mr Lum for taking up so much of your space. I got so excited as it's just in front of me as I blog.

Lam Chun See said...

"The one at Chancery fruits but someone has been taking them."

I must confess that I took 3 ....... photos that is :)

But you will agree that durians, or any other fruit for that matter, always look more tempting on a tree that on the shelf of a fruit stall or supermarket.

My friend Chuck says that you can find mangosteen trees at Jalan Bahar and Tampines Ave 7. Trouble is I don't know what a mangosteen tree looks like.

Anonymous said...

Chuck says:
Beside Tampines Ave 7 and Jalan Bahar, mangosteen trees can be found at : Serangoon Central Drive and Aljunied Road (Just after the junction of Machperson Road) The mangosteen trees are beside a chinese temple opposite Winsor Hotel.
I believe that many has seen them, but they do not know that it is a mangosteen tree as they have no idea how they looked like.

yg said...

icemoon, there are more mangosteen trees than durian trees in s'pore. they are most numerous in the lim chu kang area but i have also seen them along the southern ridges at telok blangah hill; changi village, near the div 3 holiday bungalows and even at the cemetery in lim chu kang. the mangosteen season coincides with the durian and a few other tropical fruits. the unfortunate thing is that some people are not aware that mangosteens must ripen on the tree. if you pick them before they are purple or maroon, you are wasting the fruit.

Lam Chun See said...

I just came back from Lim Chu Kang Rd. I saw a few cars parked at the roadside, and people were eating the durians they had harvested from the former Ama Keng area. There were also many rambutan trees with ripe fruits hanging over the road even!

Victor said...

The New Paper has taken up your challenge.

Cotonou said...

I remembered the durian trees in (old) Mowbray Camp, Provost Unit. Yes, there were 3 rings of concertina-wires.

We would wait until the prowlers have gone pass and we will sneak through the wires (can't recall now how we did it), and feast on the durians.

And after finishing the durians, we had to dispose of the evidence properly. For fear that RSM will be able to sniff out who has taken his durians.

We dipped the durian husks and seeds into waste engine oil, and double tied them in trash bag and bury them deep in the other rubbish at the rubbish point (that was next to the Officer's Mess)

It has been a while since my army days, and I have tasted many types of durians, but those were the simply the best. :-)

Anonymous said...

Did my NS at SOA from 1980-82. Back then, there were only SOA, 38 Engineers and 38 Engineers Workshop. The camp is a long walk from Lim Chu Kang Road using Sungei Gedong Road. There is a 'mini bus service' provided by enterprising villagers for 30cents per trip. Anyway, booking out one evening, I saw 2 civvies carrying out a sackful of durians from the training area - a live firing area. The place is now sealed off from the public.

Pat said...

Icemoon: "I wonder Botanic Garden has durian tree or not? :P "

Just realized that Icemoon's qn has yet to be answered. There is at least 1 Durian tree somewhere on the mixed forest slope between the Botanic Gardens & the NUS-Bukit Timah canteen.

Back in 2008, when a colleague & I were climbing the slope as a shortcut, a Durian fell onto the ground <1.5m away in front of us. It was one of those smallish Durian, ~17cm diameter. Our immediate reaction was to look at each other incredulously.

After that, I carried the Durian to the canteen & placed it on the outdoor table, where we proceeded to eat our lunch. My colleague whispered that many people were staring at us. (Really ? How could it be ? I'm sure the Durian looks more interesting.) Later, I went to the drinks stall & jokingly asked the seller if I were to give her a Durian right now, could she make me a glass of Durian juice.

After lunch, we wrapped the Durian tightly in a plastic bag, & took a bus back to our office at Pasir Panjang. That was the 1st & only time I commuted with a Durian on public transport -- no passenger seemed to have noticed though.

The office staff were not Durian lovers, so our unexpected Thurs prize was not very appreciated. In fact, someone announced on Fri that the stinky fruit should be thrown away. And since I was in office on Sat, I opened the Durian, took photos, & then ate it up ! Despite the fruit's small size, it was actually rather delicious.

Btw I was told that there are Durian trees at the Southern Ridges -- in the forest under the aerial walkway.

Lam Chun See said...

Ever since I posted this article in 2009, I have begun to notice the presence of durian trees in Spore; and have spotted a number more.

Anonymous said...

There are at least 500-1000 durian trees inside LCK forest.

And another 500-1000 in Mandai forest.

I can show you around. When in season, people go and pick every day and night for 2 months.

Let me know if you're keen and I'll give you an orientation

Unknown said...

I was at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve when I saw Ah Pek coming out of the dense forested area and I asked him if he had any luck. He replied "kenny nair there were more people than durians in there." At the Venus trail, I saw a man waiting patiently in a canvas shelter for durians to drop. He told me there were lots of mossies at night.

Anonymous said...

Weekend cannot go one la. Weekday go, durian more than people.

Anonymous said...

Hint hint - the forested hill opposite zoo now is starting to drop. Every trees have around 40-50 durians. There must be arund 200-300 trees around that hill.

Lam Chun See said...

Thanks for the tips. I think I will leave it to the younger and more adventurous readers to follow-up.

Pat said...

@ Victor (09 Jun 2009): "Don't durian trees have sex? [...] What I mean is, are there male and female durian trees and do they both bear fruits?"

The entire Durio genus, as well as the cultivated species Durio zibethinus (Common Durian) & its cultivars (ie. the types with yellowish/ cream-coloured pulp) are bisexual -- ie. their flowers are bisexual & thus categorized as "perfect flowers". Here, "bisexual" is the botanical equivalent of hermaphrodite, meaning that both male parts (stamen) & female parts (carpel) are present in the same flower.

The overwhelming majority of plants are bisexual (ie. hermaphrodite). A minority pf plants have unisexual flowers (ie. either male or female) & such flowers are described as "imperfect".

Plants with imperfect unisexual flowers are divided into 2 categories:-
(1) Monoecious (meaning "same household") -- Male & female flowers are borne on the same plant, eg. Ficus (Fig), Quercus (Oak), Zea mays (Maize)

(2) Dioecious (meaning "different households") -- Male & female flowers are produced on separate plants -- ie. there are separate male & female plants, eg. Salix babylonica (Weeping Willow), Araucaria heterophylla (Norfolk Island Pine), Ginkgo biloba (Gingko), Actinidia deliciosa (Kiwi fruit)

Some plant species have a more variable range of sexuality. For instance, Carica papaya (Papaya) comes in male, female & bisexual (hermaphrodite) forms. So if you want fruits, you would have to grow female or bisexual Papaya plants.

More info about plant sexuality at Simple Wikipedia.

And coming back to Durians ... its botanical sex = bisexual (hermaphrodite). In other words, there is no such thing as male or female Durian trees.

Every healthy & physiologically-mature Durian tree can produce fruits, as long as its flowers are successfully pollinated in one of the following ways:-
(a) The same flower having sex with itself
(b) Flower A having sex with Flower B on the same tree
(c) Flower on Tree X having sex with a flower on Tree Y

You can think of options (a) & (b) as the tree having sex with itself. However, note that most of the commercially-cultivated Durian cultivars (eg. D24) are highly self-incompatible -- meaning that they are self-sterile & can't breed successfully with itself, despite having both male & female parts.

A few cultivars like the Malaysian D99, as well as the Thai Chanee (D123) & Kanyao durians are self-compatible, but the usually fruit set is relatively lower as compared to self-incompatible cultivars.

And how do Durian trees have sex either with itself, or with other trees ? Ans: With the help of nocturnal pollinators like bats & moths.

Pat said...

From post: "the kampong houses just after Kheam Hock Road. This would the area between Kheam Hock Road and the PIE. I was especially attracted by the sight of the rambutan and durian trees growing there."

@ Chun See (09 Jun 09): "The kampong houses and durian trees I am referring to are at the patch of land between Kheam Hock Road and the present PIE towards Changi; i.e. behind the bus stop. It is still partly cemetery."

The said cemetery is Seh Ong (Hokkien) Cemetery, whose SW section is located within the forest between Adam Rd & Kheam Hock Rd. I'd come across discarded Durian shells on the forest floor there, probably the deeds of macaques. In addition, I'd spotted thousands of Nephelium lappaceum (Rambutan) & Lansium domesticum (Langsat) peels, as well as some Artocarpus heterophyllus (Jackfruit) peels discarded on the forest floor. There are also a few very tall & old Cocos nucifera (Coconut) trees in the middle of the secondary forest there.

Of the above, only Rambutan is native to S'pore. And except for Coconut, the other species do not form self-propagating populations under local conditions. So they were most likely planted by former villagers.

@ Chun See (09 Jun 09): "I checked my 1981 street directory. The kampong that I saw was called Jalan Berahi; off Kheam Hock Road and there was s school that was called Chin Chung Public School right there beside the PIE."

The now-expunged Jln Berahi & school do not yet exist on the 1958 town map of the area, although several structures & 2 places of worship (denoted by "W" orange rectangles) are indicated in the Seh Ong Cemetery area.

The 1st mention of Jln Berahi in the local press was a 17 Nov 1967 notice informing about a power cut in the area. The road & the school are indicated in the 1970 Street Directory (cut-off: Dec 1968). Incidentally, Seh Ong Charity (Seh Ong Kyban Congsee) association's HQ was located at No. 2 Jln Berahi, at which its AGMs were held from the 1970s till the late 1980s/ early 1990s.

Jln Berahi appears to have been expunged in around 1995 -- it is not shown in the 1996 Street Directory (cut-off: 01 Jun 1995). The last mentions of the road in the local press were on 14 & 23 Apr 1997 (full article inaccessible), regarding a court action by Seh Ong Charity about the Land Titles Act ... perhaps the clan association was challenging the acquisition of its land.

Here's a Google Street View of the (now blocked) entrance to Jln Berahi, off Kheam Hock Rd.

When did you see the kampung (Jln Berahi village) ? Was Jln Berahi a tarmac road or metalled track ? I can't really tell from the 7 photos (dated 1992) of Jln Berahi at NLB's PictureSg archive, including the following:

* Photo of Seh Ong Cemetery Temple that was located along Jln Berahi. The English text on the temple's big signage: "Worshipping Place of the Hokkien Ong Temple's Burial Ground".
* Photo of some buildings along Jln Berahi. The street name is visible on the road sign.

Coincidentally, on an etymological vs. botanical note ... since I was talking about plant & Durian sexualities in the my preceding comment), below are the English translations of the Malay term:-

* Berahi (noun): passion, sexual desire, lust
* Berahi (adj): sultry, torrid, lustful, libidinous, passionate
* Berahikan: to be in love with

Well, Jalan Berahi must have been a pretty sexy cemetery lane. Must be the effect of too many blooming & fruiting Durians, Rambutans, Bananas, etc. :)

Lam Chun See said...

Thanks Pat, once again for your valuable inputs. I shd clarify that when I say Kheam Hock Rd, most of the time, I was actually referring to Sime Rd. I always assumed that the short stretch of Sime Rd leading to Bt Brown was part of Kheam Hock Rd.

Unknown said...

There's one at SAFTI Military Institute behind Goh Keng Swee Command & Staff College.