Since Ulota crispa was split into three species, Ulota bruchii has become more clearly defined and, in theory at least, easier to identify.
In the field, it is readily recognised by a combination of a strongly ribbed capsule tapering to the mouth and the so-called ‘cookie-cutter’ (or star-like) appearance of the mouth itself when viewed end on; there’s a good photo of this feature below. Don’t bother trying to identify wet Ulota plants in the field! Capsules inflate and become smooth when hydrated and their shape is not helpful in this state.
You can double-check your identification by examining the peristome teeth with a compound microscope. Details of how to do this are on the Ulota intermedia page. The outer peristome teeth of U. bruchii have an attractive pattern of lines and dense fine papillae in their upper half, whilst the inner peristome teeth are striated in their lower part. The ribs of the capsule reach right up to the capsule mouth, just like in U. crispa, but that species differs in dry capsule shape and peristome teeth ornamentation.
The capsules of U. bruchii mature from autumn into winter, but they stay on the plants for many months after that and so in practice plants can be identified for much of the year.
For more detail, Tom Blockeel’s 2017 Field Bryology article is strongly recommended and you can download a PDF by following the link at the bottom of this page.Read the Field Guide account