Federal and State Listed Species of Texas:
Earth fruit is known from Anderson, Gregg, Harrison, Palo Pinto, Panola and Parker counties in Texas, and in the neighboring states of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Missouri.
Earth fruit is a tiny, succulent-looking, erect annual (1-4 cm tall), which varies in color from green to pink to reddish-purple. Leaves occur opposite to one another along the stem and are oval-shaped with smooth edges. The flower base attaches directly to the main stem rather than attaching by a stalk. Also, the flower base connects to the main stem at the same point as a leaf. The flowers have no petals but five, minute, reddish to red-green, succulent, leaf-like structures and five male, pollen-bearing structures. Fruits develop into a 3-chambered capsule, which dries and then splits open to release its minute seed.
Earth fruit can be identified by its unique combination of characteristics including its pink-purple, succulent appearance, green petal-like structures (no true petals), and fruits with 3-chambered capsules. Water pygmyweed (Crassula aquatica) can be distinguished by its horizontal stature. Water-starwort (Callitriche peploides) and yellow stonecrop (Sedum nuttallianum) can resemble non-flowering earth fruit. However, water-starwort stems grow horizontal to the ground and yellow stonecrop has rounded (opposed to pointed) leaf tips.
In Texas, earth fruit occurs in poorly draining, saline soils along the edges of shallow depressions in sparsely vegetated areas of the Piney Woods. In the Western Cross Timbers earth fruit is restricted to seasonally wet sandstone glades within post oak and blackjack oak savannas.
Life Cycle Events
Flowering occurs from February to March.
Earth fruit is only detectable in late winter/early spring around the time it flowers (February-March).