How Camu Camu Grows

April 4, 2020 | Herbs America | |

man harvesting camu camu in jungle | Where Camu Camu Grows
Harvesting Camu Camu berries from Myrciaria dubia shrubs in Peru. | Photographer: ©Jerome Black

Are you interested in learning about where and how camu camu grows? You’ve come to the right place.

The Camu Camu species grows naturally in flood plains and riparian zones along rivers and oxbow lakes in areas of high humidity, where the average rainfall is between 2,500 and 3,000 millimeters annually.1  In fact, the shrub remains submerged in water for four to five months per year.2  In these alluvial zones, it grows in muddy, gritty, clay-like soils that are poorly drained. The species seems to prefer soil with a pH between 4.5 and 6.5.3 They are a dominant species in the oligarchic forests, in which they are found.

Ecology

Flowering in this species is closely tied to the region’s hydrological cycle. For individual shrubs with a basal diameter of at least two centimeters, the flowering process begins when the floodwaters begin to recede between September and November – just as the branches and leaves begin to receive sunlight. It starts at the tops of the highest branches and progressively extends down to the lower branches.4

Although the flowers are hermaphroditic, the female reproductive organs reach maturity before the male organs, thus preventing self-fertilization. Pollination by wind does take place to an extent, but most pollination is carried out by small bees that are attracted to the flowers’ nectar and sweet-smelling petals. Studies suggest that most of the pollination is carried out by two species of bees: Melipona fuscopilara and Trigona portica. The flowering process happens early in the morning and the blossoms are only open for pollination for about five hours. After pollination occurs, the stamens begin to wilt almost immediately, and the corolla dries up the next day.5

man harvesting Myrciaria dubia fruit in Peru
Man harvests Camu Camu berries from Myrciaria dubia shrub in Peru.
Photographer: ©Jerome Black

Cultivation

In Peru, cultivation of this plant is an emerging part of agroforestry and much research is being carried out on the best methods and approaches. In plantations established on firm land that does not flood, the shrubs can produce fruit year-round.

Harvesting

Harvesting of camu camu for commercial purposes began in the mid-‘80s, when it started being used for its juice and to flavor sodas and ice creams in Peru and other parts of South America. Wild harvesting typically begins when the flood waters begin to recede in December and continues through May. Sometimes harvest begins when the shrubs are still partially submerged, requiring a boat for access to them. Starch content is minimal in ripened fruits, making it is easier to process juice and extract pulp from them. Processing aids typically are not necessary to improve juice yield because the fruit is quite low in pectin.6


  1. Peters, Charles M., and A. Vasquez. “Estudios Ecológicos De Camu-Camu (Myrciaria dubia). I. Producción De Frutos En Poblaciones Naturales.” Acta Amazonica, vol. 17, no. 0, 1987, pp. 161–188., doi:10.1590/1809-43921987171174. 

  2. Peters, Charles M., and A. Vasquez. “Estudios Ecológicos De Camu-Camu (Myrciaria dubia). I. Producción De Frutos En Poblaciones Naturales.” Acta Amazonica, vol. 17, no. 0, 1987, pp. 161–188., doi:10.1590/1809-43921987171174. 

  3. Peters, Charles M., and A. Vasquez. “Estudios Ecológicos De Camu-Camu (Myrciaria dubia). I. Producción De Frutos En Poblaciones Naturales.” Acta Amazonica, vol. 17, no. 0, 1987, pp. 161–188., doi:10.1590/1809-43921987171174. 

  4. Peters, Charles M., and A. Vasquez. “Estudios Ecológicos De Camu-Camu (Myrciaria dubia). I. Producción De Frutos En Poblaciones Naturales.” Acta Amazonica, vol. 17, no. 0, 1987, pp. 161–188., doi:10.1590/1809-43921987171174. 

  5. Peters, Charles M., and A. Vasquez. “Estudios Ecológicos De Camu-Camu (Myrciaria dubia). I. Producción De Frutos En Poblaciones Naturales.” Acta Amazonica, vol. 17, no. 0, 1987, pp. 161–188., doi:10.1590/1809-43921987171174. 

  6. Alves, Ricardo Elesbao, et al. “Camu-Camu (Myrciaria Dubia Mc Vaugh): A Rich Natural Source of Vitamin C .” Proceedings of the Interamerican Society for Tropical Horticulture, vol. 46, 2002, pp. 11–13., http://www.ceinfo.cnpat.embrapa.br/arquivos/artigo_1581.pdf.