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Scrubwort diverges from wormwort by spreading into drier neighboring areas. Unlike its close relatives, the twistworms, juvenile scrubworts still need mucus to move around. This means that the juveniles still have to drink high amounts of water to survive. As a result, they've developed a rapid lifecycle. The eggs are hardy and stay dormant until heavy rainfall happens, at which point they hatch. These grow rapidly into mobile males, which disperse, eat, and mate, then find a place to settle after about a month or so. In the savanna, this leads to a steady lifecycle in which they have a burst of reproduction each year during the rainy season. However, they've also managed to spread into scrubland on a more irregular basis during its infrequent rains. Deserts, however, have been far too harsh to sustain them.

Once the juvenile male has settled, he grows into an immobile mature female. As scrubworts are sparser on the ground than their ancestors, she grows a few segments lengthwise before growing vertically, increasing the area exposed to sunlight. Three of the leaf-thorns grow downward to hold the scrubwort in place, but the rest grow upward and outward. The leaf-thorns are adapted for water retention. The shape remains similar to a conifer needle, but they have a waxy coating and store water on the inside. Scrubwort also grows a rain-catching funnel at the top of the head, which has become larger than in wormwort.

The organism grows quickly, with fewer segments that in wormwort. With its accelerated lifecycle, the mature female usually only lasts one year, from one rainy season to the next, lasting long enough to be mated with by that year's newly-hatched juvenile males. However, a particularly successful individual may make it another year past that. As before, the male collects egg cells from the female, which he takes in through his spiracles. He secretes fertilized eggs in his mucus trail. These now form a hardy spore-like structure around a zygote, which can remain dormant for a year if necessary. The fast lifecycle provides another distinction from twistworms, as although scrubwort is less efficient in some regards, it is able to reproduce and proliferate rapidly.

Scrubwort anatomy is much the same as wormwort's. They have a segmented, chitinous, photosynthetic outer shell and a soft inner core. These belong to different genetic lines, and their egg and sperm cells come in pairs, one for each. Between each segment, they have spiracles for oxygen intake, and the juveniles also have a pair of eyes near the top. The juveniles have a digestive tract, with a hole in the bottom of the front shell serving as mouth, where the fleshy core can grip detritus and scrape it against the shell. In adults, this splits into multiple vessels for conveying nutrients and water up and down and has developed several deposits to store nutrients during lean times. The juveniles have a nervous system with a ganglion in each segment, but this is reabsorbed upon adulthood.