Cladonia cristatella Tuck.
British Soldiers, Cup Lichen, British Soliders
British soldier lichen, with its brilliant red caps, is named for the army of British “redcoats” who invaded colonial America. Take a look at this photo, which won Botany Photo of the Day. The red caps create the spores.
Identification: These lichens are fruticose, which simply means that they look like tiny shrubs. They are less than 1" (2.5 cm) high, and are found on disturbed ground (for example, along areas cleared for high tension power lines) or on decaying wood. I often see moss nearby. Lipstick powderhorn (Cladonia macilenta) and red-fruited pixie cups (Cladonia pleurota) also have red tops, the former are tall and narrow and the latter are goblet-shaped.
Cladonia cristatella on Stephen Sharnoff Photography
Cladonia cristatella on Tom Volk's Fungi site, at the Department of Biology at the University of Wisconsin
Cladonia cristatella at the Island Creek Elementary School's Study of Northern Virginia Ecology
Cladonia cristatella at the Consortium of North American Lichen Herbaria
Cladonia cristatella at the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden Center for Plant Research
Cladonia cristatella on Wikimedia Commons
Cladonia cristatella description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Aug 2013.