Description: Primary thallus squamulose, often ephemeral, the squamules middle-sized, 2-4 mm long, rounded to crenate-lobate, white below, 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, 2-9 cm tall and up to 5 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. 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)