From a distance, species of Haplotrichum are little more than patches of colour on dead wood. A close look shows then to have a loose structure, a little like fairy floss. Identification to species requires a microscopic examination. The first published description of this species, in 1873 under the name Rhinotrichum pulchrum, was by the English mycologist M.J. Berkeley. His description began with the words Strato tenui croceo (in a thin, yellow layer) and was based on a specimen found on dead wood in Wangaratta, Victoria.