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.
Plants usually in open turfs and mats, usually yellow-green. Stems (0.3-)0.6-1.4(-4) cm. Leaves erect-patent to contorted or somewhat crisped when dry, rarely forming a comal tuft, patent to erect-patent to spreading when wet, 0.35-2.8 mm, distal margins usually toothed; costae percurrent to slightly excurrent. Seta pale yellow to yellow-orange. Capsule slightly inclined to erect, usually arcuate, (1-)1.7-2.3(-3.7) mm, pale brown to yellow (golden) orange, smooth to sulcate when dry, weakly strumose to struma absent. Peristome teeth usually bordered, usually with 8-16 articulations.
Capsules mature early summer-late fall. Soil, tree bases, rock ledges, often on burned ground; low to high elevations; Ariz., Calif., N.Mex., Tex.; Mexico; West Indies; Central America; n South America; Eurasia; Africa.
J. S. Burley and N. M. Pritchard (1990) noted that subsp. stenocarpus is mainly tropical to sub-tropical, and frequently at higher elevations within these regions, but also note its distribution in southwestern North America.
Plants in open to dense tufts, turfs, or mats, green, dark green, to brownish green, rarely yellow-green. Stems (0.3-)0.6-1.4(-4) cm. Leaves erect-patent to contorted or somewhat crisped when dry, rarely forming a comal tuft, patent to erect-patent to spreading when wet, 0.35-2.8 mm, distal margins usually toothed; costa percurrent to slightly excurrent. Seta usually red to dark brown. Capsule usually inclined to horizontal, (0.8-)1.3-1.8(-3) mm, usually arcuate, red to red-brown to purplish to, occasionally, light brown, deeply sulcate when dry, usually strumose, occasionally light brown. Peristome teeth usually bordered, usually with 8-16 articulations.
Capsules mature early summer-late fall. Various habitats, but most common on open soil, also rock ledges, tree bases, roof tops, old wood, a common colonizer of soil following fires; low to high elevations; Greenland; Alta., B.C., Man., N.B., Nfld. and Labr., N.W.T., N.S., Nunavut, Ont., P.E.I., Que., Sask., Yukon; Ala., Alaska, Ariz., Ark., Calif., Colo., Conn., Del., D.C., Fla., Ga., Idaho, Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kans., Ky., La., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Mont., Nebr., Nev., N.H., N.J., N.Mex., N.Y., N.C., N.Dak., Ohio, Okla., Oreg., Pa., R.I., S.C., S.Dak., Tenn., Tex., Utah, Vt., Va., Wash., W.Va., Wis., Wyo.; Mexico; Eurasia; Pacific Islands (Hawaii).