Usually easy to recognise when well-coloured and growing luxuriantly, but odd-looking forms can be found. In practice, there are few mosses that have the intricate, bipinnate flattened branches of H. splendens – the main confuser is Thuidium tamariscinum.
Things to check for in H. splendens are stem colour, which is nearly always bright red (this separates it from Thuidium, which never has red stems). The stems also look fuzzy when examined with a hand-lens due to the presence of numerous tiny, hair-like paraphyllia.
Occasionally, less branched forms (simply pinnate) can be found and as they also have red stems they can be mistaken for Pleurozium schreberi, which, however lacks paraphyllia.Read the Field Guide account