Plants in open to dense tufts, turfs, or mats, green, dark green, brownish green, light green or yellow-green, usually darker proximally, often tinged reddish brown or purple. Stems (0.2-)1-3(-4) cm. Leaves crowded, erect-patent to contorted or somewhat crisped, rarely straight when dry, lanceolate, ovate-lanceolate, or triangular-lanceolate, 0.35-2.8 mm, margins recurved to near apex or rarely plane, irregularly serrate to uneven or smooth distally, apices acute to short-acuminate or, rarely, obtuse; costa strong, sub-percurrent to excurrent, sometimes as a long, smooth awn, medial laminal cells (6.5-)8-12(-14) µm, cell walls even, usually of medium thickness, often somewhat thicker and rounded at the cell angles. Seta 1-3(-4) cm, various shades of red, orange, or yellow. Capsule oblong to long-cylindric, (1-)2-2.5(-3) mm, smooth to strongly sulcate when dry; free to united at their nodes, finely papillose to spinulose-papillose, dark red and bordered to completely pale and absent borders. Spores (10-)11-14(-17) µm.
Subspecies 4 (3 in the flora): nearly worldwide.