A genus of 24 presently accepted species with a worldwide distribution. About three species in the Neotropics. The genus is characterized by the rather small plants, the distant, somewhat appressed, ligulate leaves, subpercurrent costa, generally weak stereid bands, finely pluripapillose laminal cells, firm-walled basal cells, and eperistomate capsules. Zander (in Sharp et al. 1994 - see general reference) has noted that Gymnostomum by be confused with Molendoa sendtneriana but the latter differs in have the leaves arranged indistinct spirals and lamina papillae solid, not hollow as in the former; description based in part from Zander (Sharp et al., 1994).