The small genus Climacium consists of 4 species, of which this one is the only one which can be found in Europe. The plants have repent rhizome-like main stems. Robust and dendroid branches are ascending from this stems. These branches are up to 10cm high in the species "Climacium dendroides", but in most cases only about 4-5cm high.
The leaves are longly ovate until broadly lanceolate and coarsly serrate at the tip. The midrip ends in the tip of the leaf. In most cases the leaves are clearly plicate. They lie somewhat imbricately ontop of another. In most cases there are numerous paraphyllia.
Mosses with capsules are rare. But if capsules are formed, the often stand in groups.
The species grows on humid or moist meadows even in parks or swamps of northhemispheric regions with moderate climate. It can form robust turfs between grasses. Sometimes it also grows on humid rocks or humid bark. In most cases the plants are olivaceous. The stems often gleam reddish or reddish brown through the leaves.