Hylocomium splendens, commonly known as “Step-moss” can be found in a variety of habitats on diverse substrata, such as decaying logs in the forest, the forest floor itself, cliff shelves and tree trunks.
Hylocomium splendens exhibits a pleurocarpous growth form. The plants form loose wefts of arching shoots.
Shoots are glossy green or brown-green, with red-brown stems.
The branching pattern of Hylocomium splendens is complex. Plants are composed of one or more bi-pinnately branched “steps”, each “step” representing a year’s growth. Thus, it is possible to estimate the minimum age of a plant by counting back the number of “steps” present in a sample.
The leaves of the main branch are double-costate. The apices are elongate and sinuouse. The leaf cells are elongate. The costa is multistratose.
The stem is composed of cortex of parenchymal cells surrounded by an outer red stereids surrounded by an epidermis. There is no central conducting strand. The stem has a compressed shape.
Surrounding the stem are structures known as paraphyllia. The paraphyllia in this species are abundant and easily recognizable due to their antler-like appearance.
Sporophytes are occasionally present and mature in spring or summer.