Description: Primary thallus squamulose, often ephemeral, the squamules middle-sized, 0.5-3(-5) mm long, up to 2(-3) mm wide, rounded to crenate-lobate, yellowish green to yellowish grey on upper side, white beneath, but yellowish brown towards the attachment point, occasionally sorediate. Podetia yellowish green to greenish grey, orange yellow at the necrotic base, corticate only at base, 2-5(-9) cm tall and up to 5(-7) mm thick on the stalk, with narrow, more or less regular, gradually flaring and usually non-perforated cups, more rarely pointed, squamulose especially toward the base, farinose-sorediate in upper part and inside the cups, the soredia 30-60 μm in diam. Old herbarium specimens are covered in numerous crystals similar to fine needles. Apothecia rare, scarlet red, convex, 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 scarlet red, semi-immersed along the margins of cups. Photobiont chlorococcoid. Spot tests: K-, C-, KC+ yellow, P-, UV-. Chemistry: usnic and isousnic acids, zeorin (deposited as needles on the surface of thallus), bellidiflorin, and traces of unknown terpenoids; rhodocladonic acid in apothecia and pycnidia.
Note: a mainly boreal-montane, circumpolar species found on rotting wood and organic soil in upland areas; some records could refer to C. sulphurina.
Growth form: Fruticose
Photobiont: green algae other than Trentepohlia
Reproductive strategy: mainly asexual, by soredia, or soredia-like structures (e.g. blastidia)