Durian vs. Jackfruit: What’s the Difference?

Written by Sandy Porter
Updated: November 15, 2022
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If you’re into practical, tropical fruit that can really bump up your nutrition game while also adding some unique flavors and textures to your diet, consider the durian and the jackfruit. They’re different from each other in many ways, from how they’re used to how they taste, and they’re pretty unusual compared to North American fruits overall.

But if you’re not super familiar with either of them, you’ll want to learn a bit to find out how to grow them, incorporate them into your meal plans, and much more.

Fresh jackfruit cut open to expose the flesh inside

Inside the jackfruit looks completely different from a durian.

©niran. kavirajan/Shutterstock.com

ClassificationDurio zibethinus; 30 species of the fruitArtocarpus heterophyllus; 2 types of jackfruit, the muttomvarikka and the sindoor
DescriptionDurian trees reach 165 feet in height, have evergreen elliptic leaves and produce flowers on large branches. The fruit is oblong and brown to green with pale yellow to red flesh inside.Jackfruit trees are evergreen and reach up to 66 feet in height. They may have buttress roots and have reddish-brown, smooth bark. The fruit is egg shaped and as large as 2 feet in length.
UsesDurian fruit is consumed in many ways, including raw or cooked, in main dishes, as desserts, beverages, and sides. It is packed with nutrients for a healthy dietary boost.Jackfruit is used in many edible forms, including raw and cooked. The fruit may be substituted for meat (when cooked), added to desserts, or made into jellies. Its seeds may also be used as flour. Jackfruit is also packed with healthy nutrients to improve a diet.
Origins and growing preferencesOriginating in Borneo and Malay, India, and New Guinea, the durian has been cultivated for at least 400 years. It is a tropical fruit and needs warm weather, well-draining soil, and plenty of sunlight.Jackfruit is believed to have originated in Western Ghats in India. The fruit tree was independently developed in other regions of Asia, however, so firm origins are not known. They need plenty of direct sunlight, warm temperatures, and extremely well-draining soil.
Special features and fun factsThe durian fruit has many spellings ranging from its early mention in 1588 as “durion” to duryeon, dorian, and similar derivatives. The fruit species we eat is specifically named after a odorific cat-like civet from India.Jackfruit goes by a range of names from jak to fenne, and lives to be between 60 and 70 years old, producing up to 200 massive fruits each year. It’s the largest tree-borne fruit in the world.

Key Differences Between Durian and Jackfruit

Durian and jackfruit are both staples for many diets around the world, but they’re very different in how they’re used, what they taste like, and how they grow.

Durian vs. Jackfruit: Classification

The durian fruit, or durio zibethinus, is part of the durio sensu lato genus, which has 30 different species within it. Some of the plants within this are now considered to be separate, in the boschia genus, but the plants are almost indistinguishable from each other. The durian is within the family Bombacaceae, which is part of the Malvaceae family. In other words, the plant has a lot of intricate details that determine exactly how it is classified and can get a little confusing. The main thing to be concerned with is that you’re dealing with durio zibethinus or the common durian fruit.

Artocarpus heterophyllus on the other hand is jackfruit and is actually a part of the mulberry family. The name for the fruit comes from the Portuguese word jaca, which was derived from a Malayalam word chakka from India.

Cut open durian, exposing the flesh inside

The durian has a spikier exterior and smoother interior.

©taveesak srisomthavil/Shutterstock.com

Durian vs. Jackfruit: Description

Durian fruit grows on trees that reach heights up to 165 feet, depending on the species of tree. The leaves are evergreen and elliptic, usually about 4 to 7 inches in length. The tree produces clusters of flowers on large branches. The flowers might be in clusters of 3 or 30, depending on the specific plant and species. The trees flower and fruit twice each year, typically, after the first four or five years of life. Durian fruits are usually round to oblong in shape and come in green to brown shades, with pale yellow to red flesh inside.

The fruit itself is described as having a custardy, sweet flavor that has a texture similar to cheesecake. The aroma is distinctive and extremely strong. Some of the fruits lean into a caramel and vanilla flavor, but some have a more bitter note. The exterior, though, has a hard rind with “spikes” all over it.

The jackfruit also has evergreen leaves, though the tree is much shorter. Jackfruit trees have short trunks and dense treetops, reaching up to 66 feet in height. The tree may form buttress roots and the bark is reddish-brown and smooth. Alternating leaves spiral in their arrangement and they are divided and gummy and thick.

Jackfruit has a fibrous, off-white to yellow flesh inside the fruit. The fruit is usually egg shaped and huge at 2 feet in length. And though jackfruit may be used in both sweet or savory cooking, it has actually been described as tasting like pork when fully cooked. The texture is similar, in some ways, to a pineapple with some threadiness similarities.

Durian fruit in baskets

Durian fruit in baskets


Durian vs. Jackfruit: Uses

The fruit of 9 species of durians are edible. The fruit falls within tropical fruit and is often used for a variety of intriguing ethnic meals. The fruit is turned into a traditional Malay candy, is used in rose biscuits, ice cream, milkshakes, beverages, mooncakes, Yule logs, cappuccinos, and sold as street sweets combined with glutinous rice and coconut milk. Red durian, though, is fried with onions and chilli to create a hearty side dish or turned into soup with freshwater fish.

Durian may also be fermented and is eaten cooked or uncooked, with rice and in curry, or blended into a variety of dishes in multiple countries. Durian fruit is loaded with nutrients, as well, and is considered by many to be an extremely healthy choice for meeting dietary needs. The fruit contains a hint of protein, along with Vitamin A, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin C, Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorous, Potassium, Zinc, and Sodium. This makes the fruit a great choice for health drinks like electrolyte restoratives and pre-workout supplements.

BBQ Pulled jackfruit sandwich

Because of the flavor, jackfruit is sometimes used as a substitute for meat in Vegan dishes.

©Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock.com

Because of the unique flavor of jackfruit, it is often used as a substitute for meat, specifically pork. It may be pulled like pork for a Pulled Jackfruit Sandwich or similar. The fruit is consumed at a range of stages in its maturity, as well, with various packaging of the fruit available. Jackfruit is often consumed as canned slices, as fruit juice, as dried chips, fresh, cooked, and raw. It is pureed into baby food in some countries and turned into things like preserves or jams and jellies, candy, fruit rolls, leather, ice cream, and pickled spears and slices. The seeds are also eaten after being boiled or roasted or may be ground into a flour and used in baking.

Jackfruit is also packed with nutrients celebrated for improving a healthy diet. A cup of jackfruit contains fiber, high protein (for plants), Vitamin C, Potassium, Calcium, Iron, Folic Acid, B Vitamins, Niacin, Riboflavin, and others.

Durian vs. Jackfruit: Origins and Growing Preferences

The durian tree is believed to have originated in Sumatra and Borneo in the Malay peninsula and in India, and New Guinea. The tree has been cultivated for at least 400 years, commonly in all those countries, plus Myanmar, Thailand, and southern Vietnam. The tree was first noted in European records by Niccolo de Conti in the 1400s when he traveled to Asia. Garcia de Orta also made note of the fruit in 1563, with Michal Boym making note of it in 1655, and Georg Eberhard Rumphius, a German botanist, recording it in 1741. The tree was introduced by the Portuguese to Ceylon in the 1500s, and ultimately was brought to the western world in the late 1800s.

Jackfruit is believed to have originated in the rainforests of Western Ghats in the southwestern regions of India, though some believe it originated in Malaysia. It is found throughout Asia, Africa, and South America, though. The fruit tree has most certainly been in India since 1499 when records show it was brought over from other parts of Asia. The tree was domesticated independently in both southeast and south Asia, which is shown through the various historical names that are not derived from its Sanskrit roots elsewhere. The fruit has been introduced to Guam and the Philippines, as well as parts of the former Spanish Empire. The fruit is the national fruit of Bangladesh and is the official fruit of the state of Kerala.

Young jackfruits growing in tree with sun in background

Jackfruit trees prefer loads of sunshine.


Despite both plants being tropical fruit trees, both durian and jackfruit are relatively easy to grow. Being tropical, however, they both ought to be grow in containers that can be moved. As they age, it is recommended you plant transfer the containers to some kind of cart or moving table, however, as they get quite large.

Durian trees need to be planted in warm climates where temperatures do not reach below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in a colder climate, you will need to plant them in containers. They need loads of water and lots of sunlight, and high humidity.

Growing jackfruit from seeds is reasonably easy, as long as they’re fresh seeds (that haven’t been cooked!). They need full sun, well-drained soil, and tolerate sandy, sandy loam, or rocky soils. It is a tropical fruit, though, so it needs warm weather.

Durian vs. Jackfruit: Special Features and Fun Facts

The word “Durian” comes from the Malay word for “thorn.” This is largely in reference to the prickly rind of the fruit. The fruit was once mentioned in 1588, spelled “Durion” with an o, in the translation of The History of the Great and Mighty Kingdom of China and the Situation Thereof, by explorer from Spain, Juan Gonzalez de Mendoza. There are many other historical spelling variants of the fruit’s name, including duryeon, duroyen, durean, and dorian. The specific name for the species that’s most commonly eaten is derived from a large Indian civet’s name (the Viverra zibetha), a cat-like animal known for having a strong odor.

Jackfruit cut in half, short way, exposing seeds and flesh, with pieces of the fruit's flesh on a plate beside

Jackfruit have large seeds that are easy to propogate.

©Suriyawut Suriya/Shutterstock.com

Jackfruit also has a variety of names and spellings, include jack tree, fenne, jackfruit, jak, or just jack. The tree has an exceptional lifespan for a fruit tree, at between 60 and 70 years, barring disasters. A mature jackfruit tree can produce upward of 200 fruits per year. If we were talking peaches, that wouldn’t be so impressive, but when you think of the size of a jackfruit, well, that’s a whole different game! Jackfruit is actually the largest tree-borne fruit in the world, too, by the way. And before its opened and ripe, it actually has a pretty unpleasant odor, too, which is part of why some people confuse the two fruits.

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The photo featured at the top of this post is © niran. kavirajan/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Sandy Porter is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering house garden plants, mammals, reptiles, and birds. Sandy has been writing professionally since 2017, has a Bachelor’s degree and is currently seeking her Masters. She has had lifelong experience with home gardens, cats, dogs, horses, lizards, frogs, and turtles and has written about these plants and animals professionally since 2017. She spent many years volunteering with horses and looks forward to extending that volunteer work into equine therapy in the near future. Sandy lives in Chicago, where she enjoys spotting wildlife such as foxes, rabbits, owls, hawks, and skunks on her patio and micro-garden.

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