Description: Primary thallus squamulose, the squamules often ephemeral but sometimes persistent and forming a bullate crust, middle-sized (1-3 mm), thick, white below. Podetia brownish grey to dark brown, becoming reddish brown to almost black at base, robust and elongate, to 15 cm tall and 1-4 mm thick, non- or sparsely squamulose especially towards the base, simple or with a few branches starting from near the base, with pointed apices or with narrow, regular cups, continuously corticate, smooth to often wrinked and longitudinally ridged, often somewhat glossy. Apothecia rare, brown, convex. 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, ovoid, developing along the margins of cups, with a colourless jelly. Conidia bacilliform. Photobiont chlorococcoid. Spot tests: K-, C-, KC-, P+ red. Chemistry: substances of the fumarprotocetraric acid complex, sometimes with traces of atranorin.
Note: a subarctic-subalpine, circumpolar lichen, one of the most abundant species in subalpine Rhododendron heaths throughout the Alps, mostly deeply immersed amongst mosses. See also note on C. gracilis.
Growth form: Fruticose
Substrata: soil, terricolous mosses, and plant debris