Description: Primary thallus squamulose, persistent, the squamules variable, rounded to sparsely indented, 1-6 mm long, up to 4 mm broad, irregularly crenate, yellowish green to olivaceous green above, white beneath (sometimes yellowish near the attachment point). Podetia goblet-shaped, hollow inside, yellowish green, 0.5-2(-3) cm tall, with 0.5-1.5 cm broad, regular cups soon flaring into short, 0.5-1.5 mm thick stalks, the margins of cups sometimes dentate or proliferating, esquamulose or sometimes sparsely squamulose at base, corticate only at base (more corticate in fertile specimens), granulose- or almost farinose-sorediate, the soredia 60-100 μm in diam., present also inside and on margins of cups. Apothecia rather rare, scarlet red, often compound and shortly stipitate. 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 to black, stipitate or semi-immersed along the margin of cups (rarely on the primary squamules), with a red jelly. Conidia cylindrical. Photobiont chlorococcoid. Spot tests: K-, C-, KC+ yellow, P-, UV-. Chemistry: usnic, isousnic, porphyrilic acids, and zeorin (seen as crystals on the thallus surface in herbarium specimens); rhodocladonic acid in apothecia and pycnidia.
Note: an arctic-alpine to boreal-montane, circumpolar lichen found on soil, rotting wood, more rarely on basal parts of trunks in open habitats, with optimum near or above treeline.
Growth form: Fruticose
Substrata: soil, terricolous mosses, and plant debris
Photobiont: green algae other than Trentepohlia
Reproductive strategy: mainly asexual, by soredia, or soredia-like structures (e.g. blastidia)