Thallus: fruticose, erect, usually basally attached or imbedded in soil, about 0.5-1.5 cm tall and 0.5-1.5(-2.5) cm wide, forming small, rounded tufts, branching irregular to dichotomous, short to elongate, main branches up to 2 mm in diam. but rapidly decreasing in size, pale (±white) pseudocyphellae common along the branches prothallus: not present surface: gray, green-gray, olive-gray, yellow-gray or brown-gray to green, olive, olive-brown or almost brown, dull upper cortex: (30-)40-80(-90) µm thick, outer part paraplectenchymatous, ±brown, c. 2-3 cells thick, cells (4-)5-7(-8) µm in diam.; inner part prosoplectenchymatous c. 2-4 times as thick as the outer layer; cortex covered with a thin epinecral amorphous layer 1-5(-12) µm thick photobiont: chlorococcoid, cells ±round, 5-15 µm in diam. Apothecia: aspicilioid, rare, up to 4 mm in diam., lateral, occurring in broad parts of the main stem, older apothecia becoming adnate to even stipitate, ±round disc: black to brown-black, sometimes with a gray pruina, concave when young, in older apothecia plane to slightly convex thalline margin: flat to ±elevated and prominent in older apothecia, entire, concolorous with thallus or with a thin, white rim exciple: information lacking epihymenium: N+ green hymenium: hyaline, c. 140 µm tall paraphyses: moniliform, with upper cells ±globose, 4 µm wide, in lower part 2-3 µm wide, branched hypothecium: pale, c. 50 µm thick asci: broadly clavate, 60-77 x 28-32 µm, 2-4 spored ascospores: hyaline, simple, sub-globose, 21-24 µm in diam. Pycnidia: unknown conidia: unknown Spot tests: cortex and medulla I-, K-, P-, C- Secondary metabolites: none detected by TLC. Substrate and ecology: on ±calciferous soil in steppe habitats, open stony slopes etc. World distribution: Europe (southern Europe, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine), Middle Asia, Central Asia (Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan) and North America (Canada: Saskatchewan; USA: eastern Oregon to eastern Montana and northern Great Plains, south to Utah, Colorado and Arizona) Sonoran distribution: recently found in Coconino (col. S.T. Bates et al. 2007) and Mohave (col. M. Bowker 2005) Counties in Arizona, at 1770-2180 m. Notes: Aspicilia hispida is characterized by its fruticose thallus with pale pseudocyphellae along the branches. Fertile specimens have been reported by Thomson (1960) and Brodo (1976) from Saskatchewan, Canada, and apothecial characters given above are taken from these references. Another erect, fruticose, pseudocyphellate species, so far not found south of Colorado, is Aspicilia fruticulosa. In this species the thallus is usually unattached, the branching is compactly dichotomous, and the pseudocyphellae are concentrated to the tips of the short branches. The fruticose A. californica and A. filiformis are prostrate and lack pseudocyphellae. Aspicilia hispida is an example of a steppe element found both in Eurasia and North America.