Schistostega pennata is typically found in swampy and shady habitats on the soil of overturned trees and cliff crevices. Locally, Stanley Park and Pacific Spirit Park are good places to find this species.
The tiny shoots are loosely attached to the substratum and form short turfs. The protonema, which can be persistent, is very distinctive. When reflected with light, the protonema luminesces yellow-green, like “fairy-gold”.
The lower portion of the stem appears leafless.
The sporophytes of Schistostega pennata are commonly produced, maturing in the spring.