When growing well this is a most handsome and recognisable moss, with its fern-like tri-pinnate flattened branches. It is a common and widespread mainly woodland species that can be the dominant plant. It is most characteristic of woodland but is also quite at home in heathland and on banks and verges. In acid habitats, Hylocomium splendens has a similar branching pattern but is a coarser plant with red stems. Sometimes the pinnate branching of Kindbergia praelonga can cause confusion, but this is usually bi-pinnate not tri-pinnate and the shorter-pointed cordate broad stem leaves of Kindbergia are quite different.
What is more tricky is deciding whether or not smaller forms, especially growing in more exposed conditions, might be one of the less common Thuidium species. The branching of these is not usually so complanate but it is often difficult to be sure and microscopic examination is the only way to be certain. In T.tamariscinum the apical cell of the ultimate branch leaf is acute and not crowned with several papillae which is a feature common to the other species.Read the Field Guide account