The durian is the fruit of trees of the genus Durio belonging to the Malvaceae, a large family which includes hibiscus, okra, cotton, mallows and linden trees. Widely known and revered in Southeast Asia as the "King of Fruits," the fruit is distinctive for its large size, unique odour, and a formidable thorn-covered husk. The fruit can grow up to 30 centimetres (12 in) long and 15 centimetres (6 in) in diameter, and typically weighs one to three kilograms (2 to 7 lb). Its shape ranges from oblong to round, the colour of its husk green to brown and its flesh pale-yellow to red, depending on species. The hard outer husk is covered with sharp, prickly thorns, while the edible flesh within emits the distinctive odour, which is regarded as either fragrant or overpowering and offensive. The odour of the ripe fruit is very strong and penetrating, even when the husk of the fruit is still intact. The flesh of the durian, famously described by the British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace as "a rich custard highly flavoured with almonds", can be consumed at various stages of ripeness, and is used to flavour a wide variety of edibles, both savoury and sweet. The seeds can also be eaten when cooked. The name durian comes from the Malay word duri (thorn) together with the suffix -an (for building a noun in Malay), meaning "thorny fruit."
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