Plants solitary, gregarious, or tufted, dark green to brownish, to 2 cm but mostly much shorter. Leaves dimorphic; vegetative 2-4 mm, loosely contorted when dry; distal lamina somewhat reflexed above shoulders, often somewhat folded when wet, oblong to broadly lanceolate, apex acute; margins mostly bordered entirely or in part with hyaline cells at least on some leaves, entire; medial cells distinct, 8-10 µm, bulging adaxially, smooth to 1-papillose abaxially; cancellinae ending in acute angles distally; gemmiferous leaves often aggregated into splash-cup comae at stem tips, tightly appressed when dry, spreading-ascending when wet, oblong-deltoid, acute. Gemmae filamentous, smooth, abundant, adaxial along costa of distal lamina. Seta single or 2-3 per perichaetium, 2-3 mm. Capsule emergent to exserted, 1-1.5 mm; peristome vestigial.
Capsules mature Mar. Twigs and bark of shrubs and small trees, humid forests; low elevations (0-100 m); Ala., Fla., Ga., La., Miss., Tex.; Mexico; West Indies; Central America; South America; Asia; Africa; Australia.
In dry plants of Syrrhopodon parasiticus, the abaxial surface of the costa is often very conspicuous, an aid to identification in the field. In the northern portion of its range plants are mostly small and inconspicuous, but in southern Florida the plants are often robust, tufted, and conspicuous. Plants with sporophytes are restricted to south of Highlands County, Florida. Robust plants in southern Florida often have teniola-like intramarginal fetures in the proximal parts of the leaves.