A taxonomic history of Lepidozia cupressina (Sw.) Lindenb. (Jungermannia cupressina Sw.) is presented and its diagnostic characters and variability in sub-Saharan Africa are thoroughly discussed. Three subspecies are currently distinguished in this region, namely subsp. cupressina, subsp. africana (Steph.) Pócs, stat. et comb. nov., which occurs in the East African Indian Ocean islands and in the Eastern Arc of continental East Africa, as well as on the island of St. Helena in the Atlantic Ocean, and subsp. natalensis (Steph.) Pócs which is restricted to southern Africa. The other two subspecies, subsp. pinnata (Hook.) Pócs and subsp. quinquefida (Steph.) Pócs, are merged with the type subspecies of L. cupressina. A key to the recognition of the subspecies of L. cupressina is provided. Lepidozia chordulifera Taylor, a temperate species widely distributed in southern South America, is taxonomically assessed and some of its diagnostic traits are illustrated. It is considered to be conspecific with L. cupressina subsp. cupressina. Thanks to this taxonomic conclusion the range extension of L. cupressina in southern South America, including the Falkland Islands, is sanctioned and, additionally, distribution of this species is extended to subantarctic South Georgia and the northern maritime Antarctic. The current geographical range of L. cupressina is reviewed and mapped and it may be designated as a bipolar temperate species with numerous transitional stations in the tropical mountains. In the Southern Hemisphere L. cupressina is a typical Afro-American oreophyte.