Myrciaria dubia (Camu camu)

Family: Myrtaceae

Latin name: Myrciaria dubia, Myrciaria spp.

Vernacular name: Camu camu, shahuinto

Ethnobotany
Though very high in vitamin C, until recent decades, camu camu was used almost exclusively as fish bait and a convenient source of firewood when dead. The fruit is now popular in drinks, popsicles, and candy. The cortex is also steeped in aguardiente, which is then drunk to prevent rheumatism. Drinking the juice is said to cure anemia. Camu camu is exported from Peru, with most of it going to Japan.

Agroforestry
Since most M. dubia has at least 2700mg of ascorbic acid per 100 grams of fruit, this small tree has been planted in experimental agroforestry systems since the 1960s. Ribereños have also been planting it, especially in flooded areas. Large-scale planting has now begun throughout the region due to the current export of the fruit. M. dubia is usually spaced either two by three or three by three meters, and interplanted with cowpea, squash, manioc, and other annual crops. Tighter spacing is common, but this strictly limits intercropping options. It favors soft, alluvial soils of seasonally flooded areas, and can be interplanted with other flood-resistant tree species. It can also grow well in uplands. Trees of this genus can grow to be very large (E.g., “shahuinto”), and spacing needs vary. All species require full sun, and do not tolerate weeds.

Wild camu camu in the Tahuayo River.

Wild camu camu in the Tahuayo River.

Woman harvesting camu camu from canoe.

Woman harvesting camu camu from canoe.

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