Plants in loose to dense tufts, dull, dark or yellowish green sometimes brownish. Stems erect, (0.5-)1-2(-3) cm, simple or forked, slightly to densely radiculose basally, the rhizoids reddish near the stem, often hyaline distally, smooth or roughened, arising from the stems and the base of branches. Leaves crispate when dry, curled-contorted when wet, the limb erect-flexuose from an erect base, ovate- or oblong- or linear-lanceolate, ovate and concave basally, limb distally narrow, keeled to tubulose, gradually acuminate to a fine point; apex acute to obtuse, not deciduous; margins at the base erect and entire, recurved beyond the base or occasionally throughout, nearly entire or evenly to coarsely serrulate in the distal 1/4-1/3 or just at the apex; margins (1-)2(-3)-stratose, occasionally 2-stratose along costa or scattered; costa single, usually ending before the apex, proximally smooth or sometimes toothed on abaxial surface especially in apical third by projecting cell ends; 7.5-10 µm, adaxial epidermal layer absent, adaxial stereid band poorly developed, guide cells present in 1 row, abaxial stereid band strong, abaxial epidermal layer poorly differentiated from abaxial stereids or absent; basal cells elongate, rectangular, mostly to 5:1, alar cells not or little differentiated; medial and distal laminal cells short, rounded-quadrate to irregular, or short-rectangular, mostly 2:1, longer and broader along costa, occasionally oblate to triangular, smooth or sometimes spinose and bulging mammillose (strongly mammillose-papillose), nonpitted. Specialized asexual reproduction absent. Sexual condition autoicous or cladautoicous; perigonia sessile or stalked, perigonial bracts (2-)4-6(-7) mm, ovate-lanceolate, concave, smooth, acute to rounded-obtuse, occasionally with recurved tips; perichaetial bracts similar to vegetative leaves or larger. Seta 2-15 mm, smooth, yellow, tending to reddish brown with age, occasionally curved-cygneous when wet, straight when dry [C. gracilescens]. Capsule erect or inclined, oblong, ovoid, cylindric, straight or often arcuate, occasionally zygomorphic, smooth or longitudinally broadly or narrowly striate when moist, becoming more deeply furrowed to sulcate when dry, with or without weakly differentiated to distinct struma; annulus variable, absent, rudimentary, small and adherent or large, 1-3 rows of deciduous, revoluble cells; operculum obliquely high-conic, rostrate to long-rostrate; peristome single, of 16 lanceolate teeth, more or less entire, irregularly perforate or divided about halfway to 2/3 or nearly to the base into two divisions, distinctly vertically striate basally, red, with pale, papillose tips. Calyptra cucullate. smooth. Spores (10-)15-23(-25) µm, smooth, finely to distinctly papillose.
Species ca. 15 (9 in the flora): Northern Hemisphere, mainly temperate and arctic areas.