The Lesser Dawn Bat (Eonycteris spelaea) is a species of bat in the Pteropodidae family. It is found in China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Thailand. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist montanes and caves. It is threatened by habitat loss.
They are the sole pollinators of the durian fruit, a crop that contributes $120 million US dollars to the economies of Southeast Asia each year.
The durian is the fruit of trees from 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 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 four 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 the species.
The edible flesh emits a distinctive odour, strong and penetrating even when the husk is intact. Regarded by some as fragrant, others as overpowering and offensive, the smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust. The odour has led to the fruit's banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in Southeast Asia.
There are 30 recognised Durio species, at least nine of which produce edible fruit. Durio zibethinus is the only species available in the international market: other species are sold in their local regions. There are hundreds of durian cultivars; most of them have a common name and a code number starting with "D". Many consumers express preferences for specific cultivars, which fetch higher prices in the market.
Durian flowers are large and feathery with copious nectar, and give off a heavy, sour and buttery odour. These features are typical of flowers pollinated by certain species of bats that eat nectar and pollen. According to research conducted in Malaysia in the 1970s, durians were pollinated almost exclusively by cave fruit bats (Eonycteris spelaea). However, a 1996 study indicated two species, D. grandiflorus and D. oblongus, were pollinated by spiderhunters (Nectariniidae) and another species, D. kutejensis, was pollinated by giant honey bees and birds as well as bats.
Durian fruit is used to flavour a wide variety of sweet edibles such as traditional Malay candy, ice kachang, dodol, rose biscuits, and, with a touch of modern innovation, ice cream, milkshakes, mooncakes, Yule logs and cappuccino. Pulut Durian is glutinous rice steamed with coconut milk and served with ripened durian. In Sabah, red durian is fried with onions and chilli and served as a side dish. Red-fleshed durian is traditionally added to sayur, an Indonesian soup made from fresh water fish. Ikan brengkes is fish cooked in a durian-based sauce, traditional in Sumatra. Tempoyak refers to fermented durian, usually made from lower quality durian that is unsuitable for direct consumption. Tempoyak can be eaten either cooked or uncooked, is normally eaten with rice, and can also be used for making curry. Sambal Tempoyak is a Sumatran dish made from the fermented durian fruit, coconut milk, and a collection of spicy ingredients known as sambal.
In Malaysia, a decoction of the leaves and roots used to be prescribed as an antipyretic. The leaf juice is applied on the head of a fever patient. The most complete description of the medicinal use of the durian as remedies for fevers is a Malay prescription, collected by Burkill and Haniff in 1930. It instructs the reader to boil the roots of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis with the roots of Durio zibethinus, Nephelium longan, Nephelium mutabile and Artocarpus integrifolia, and drink the decoction or use it as a poultice.
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