Primary thallus: squamulose, soon disappearing; squamules: 1-4 (-9) mm long, 1-6 mm wide, esorediate or barely sorediate beneath margins podetia: abundant, 15-50 (-100) mm tall, 1.5-4 mm thick, unbranched to sparingly branched, branching angle often wide (to 90°), pale gray or grayish green, subulate but finally cup-forming; cups: 1-3.5 mm wide, often with long, subulate proliferations formed from cup margins surface: mostly ecorticate, farinose sorediate but isidioid structures or small podetial squamules occurring towards the base Apothecia: infrequent, at cup margins, stalked, dark brown ascospores: not observed Pycnidia: at tips of subulate podetia or cup margins, ovoid to conical, slightly constricted at base, gelatin hyaline conidia: 5-8 x 1 micro meter Spot tests: K- or K+ dingy yellow to dingy brownish, C-, KC-, P+ red, UV- Secondary metabolite: fumarprotocetraric acid. Habitat and ecology: on bare soil over earth banks, rarely on wood, mainly in cool temperate regions World distribution: all continents Sonoran distribution: in upper elevations of eastern Arizona (Apache Co.) and southern California. Notes: Cladonia subulata is variable and sometimes difficult to distinguish from C. fimbriata. Both species are covered with farinose to (occasionally) granular soredia. The cups of C. fimbriata are wider and shallower than those of C. subulata. Although in most populations its tall, slender, subulate podetia dominate, specimens of C. subulata from northern and interior localities in western North America are abundantly cupped, often with wide cups and relatively short podetia. See also the discussion under C. subfimbriata.