Camu Camu, Myrciaria dubia, also called Camocamo and Cacari, is a bushy, small, 3-5 meters evergreen fruit bearing tree, indigenous to Amazon rainforest flora of Peru and Brazil. The plant is a close relation of the Jaboticaba, Myrciaria cauliflora, and the Guavaberry or Rumberry Myrciaria floribunda.
The tree occurs in dense populations, up to a 1000/ha, in Amazonian flood fields and riparian vegetation. The plant is highly tolerant of flooding, withstanding four to five months with the roots and even much of the aerial portions submerged in water.
Myrciaria dubia has bushy feathery leafage, opposite arranged, pointed to oval shaped and with individual leaves having a length of 3-20 cm and 1-2 cm width. The tree has small flowers with waxy white petals and with a sweet-smelling perfume. Plants flower at the end of the dry season and fruit at the height of the rainy season.
Camu Camu Fruit
Camu Camu fruit is red/purple cherry-like, inordinately high in vitamin C content (2-3% of fresh weight) which is the most important property of the fruit that has been used in placing it on worldwide markets. However, Vitamin C content declines as full maturity is reached, with a trade off between vitamin C and flavour aspect.
The fruit is extremely acidic, and the flavour can only be appreciated in recipes involving blending and the addition of sugar or other sweeteners. Camu Camu has also a unique aroma and fruit pigmentation. A reddish pigment in the leathery skin contributes an inviting and unique pink colour on juices extracted from the fruit.
In addition to the high vitamin C content, it contains the amino acids valine, leucine and serine. It is also rich in flavonoids, such as anthocyanins, flavonols and flavanols, catechins, ellagic acid and rutin.
Camu Camu Fruit Propagation Methods
Plant propagation is by seeds. In cultivation, the tree commences bearing fruits after reaching 2 cm in stem girth or about three years after emergence of the seedling. Myrciaria dubia is a member of the family Myrtaceae the genus Myrciaria
Observances with both wild and cultivated plants indicate that the trees can remain productive for many decades. Wild trees have been found to yield 12 kg of fruit on average.
At suggested planting densities of 600-1100 trees/ha, about 12 tonnes of fruit can be derived in cultivation from one hectare. However, with improved horticultural methods, pruning, and fertilization, much higher yields could be attained.
Over-harvesting of the wild Camu camu jeopardises it to become a threatened species. However, attempts are underway to promote the commercial growing of Camu Camu in the Amazon River basin.
Camu Camu, Myrciaria dubia
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