Description: Primary thallus squamulose, persistent or evanescent, the squamules middle-sized, 1-4 mm long, c. 0.5 mm broad, indented, grey-green above, white beneath. Podetia hollow inside, greenish grey to brown, extremely polymorphic, slender, 2-7 cm tall and up to 4 mm thick (usually much less), unbranched or sparingly branched in upper part, with open axillary or terminal funnels which proliferate from margins, thus terminating in a cup-like perforation with spinulose margins, not melanotic at base, continuously corticate to areolate, esorediate, sometimes squamulose. Apothecia dark brown, convex, usually stipitate, developing at the margins of cups. Asci 8-spored, clavate, thickened at apex, with a K/I+ blue tholus and a K/I+ strongly blue outer gelatinous sheath, Cladonia-type. Ascospores 1-celled, hyaline, ellipsoid. Pycnidia dark, semi-immersed, mostly in the margins of cups or on the primary squamules, often constricted at base, with a reddish jelly. Conidia cylindrical. Photobiont chlorococcoid. Spot tests: K-, C-, KC-, P-, UV+ white. Chemistry: squamatic acid and variable amounts of barbatic acid. In Central Europe rarely also with thamnolic acid (K+ and P+ yellow).
Note: a boreal-montane to subarctic-subalpine, circumpolar species found on soil, more rarely on lignum, in open habitats, in areas near treeline with siliceous substrata.
Growth form: Fruticose
Substrata: soil, terricolous mosses, and plant debris