Cladonia sulphurina


Cladonia sulphurina

(Michx.) Fr. (1831)
Cladonia deformis auct. p.p.
Cladonia gonecha
Conservation Status
BLS Number
Taxon Photo
General Description

A distinctive Heathtail Cladonia with yellow to yellow-green podetia covered in fine soredia, usually with pointed apices, but occasionally with narrow cups. The podetia are usually distorted and lacerate. The soredia are UV+ bright white, which distinguishes this species from the rather similar but very rare  Cladonia deformis which is UV–. A northern and eastern upland species found on peat and sometimes dead wood.


Podetia to 5 cm tall, yellow to grey- or yellow-green, with ± pointed apices, unbranched, usually conspicuously longitudinally lacerated, particularly in the upper part, rarely with narrow, ± regular cups, slightly wider than the main podetia, ± farinose-sorediate throughout, or often with a 1–2 mm corticate area at the base, which is often ± squamulose. Basal squamules often large, 2–8 mm wide, ± rounded, the lower surface white, often yellowish to red-brown (K+ purple) towards the base, occasionally sorediate, horizontally spreading or ± ascending. Apothecia and pycnidia red, at the tips of podetia; rarely fertile. Thallus C–, K–, KC+ yellow, Pd–, UV+ white (usnic and squamatic acids, ± zeorin, ± bellidiflorin).

The tall yellow-green podetia, often conspicuously fissured towards their apices, are particularly diagnostic. Older records of Cladonia deformis probably refer to this species; it has UV– thalli.


On montane and (less frequently) lowland heaths, also rarely on decaying thatch and well-rotted conifer wood.

Distribution Map
Key to map date classes

Frequent, northern and eastern Scotland and north east England, extending very rarely to S. England and Wales.

Threats & Status

Very rare to the south of its core area of distribution.


Pino-Bodas, R., Sanderson, N., Cannon, P., Aptroot, A., Coppins, B., Orange, A. & Simkin, J. (2021). Lecanorales: Cladoniaceae, including the genera CladoniaPilophorus and PycnotheliaRevisions of British and Irish Lichens 19: 1-45. Link

Text by Neil A Sanderson, based on Pino-Bodas et al (2021)