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Cladonia cristatella Tuck.

 

British soldiers, cup lichen

KingdomFungiMushrooms, lichens, gel fungi, yeasts, and molds; also called eukaryotes
DivisionAscomycotaSac fungi
SubdivisionPezizomycotinaSac fungi with filaments
ClassLecanoromycetes“Lichenized” fungi
OrderLecanoralesMostly lichen-forming fungi
SuborderLecanorineaeLichens
FamilyCladoniaceaeReindeer moss, cup lichen, others
GenusCladonia“Cup lichen”
Speciescristatella

About plant names...

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.

Online References:

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 on islandcreekes.fcps.edu

Cladonia cristatella on botanyphoto.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca

Cladonia cristatella on Wikimedia Commons

References:

Walewski, Joe, Lichens of the North Woods, Kollath+Stensaas Publishing, 2007, p. 44

Cladonia cristatella (British soldiers, cup lichen)

6/8/2012 · Townsend Wildlife Management Area, Townsend, MA
≈ 3½ × 3" (9 × 8.5 cm)

Cladonia cristatella (British soldiers, cup lichen)

9/14/2009 · Near Nashoba Hospital, Ayer, MA
≈ 3½ × 3" (8.7 × 7.8 cm)

Cladonia cristatella (British soldiers, cup lichen)

9/14/2009 · Near Nashoba Hospital, Ayer, MA
≈ 4 × 3½" (10.0 × 8.9 cm)

Cladonia cristatella (British soldiers, cup lichen)

8/17/2020 · Otter Brook Preserve, Harpswell, ME
≈ 3 × 3" (8.3 × 7.4 cm)

Cladonia cristatella (British soldiers, cup lichen)

8/16/2014 · Arethusa Falls, White Mountains, NH
≈ 4½ × 4" (11 × 10 cm)

Cladonia cristatella (British soldiers, cup lichen)

3/10/1985 · Dunstable, MA

Cladonia cristatella description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 7 Sep 2020.

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Cladonia cristatella (British soldiers, cup lichen)

8/28/2020 · Jack’s and Litchfield Trails, Chase Reserve, Brunswick, ME
≈ 6 × 4" (14 × 10.0 cm)

Cladonia cristatella (British soldiers, cup lichen)

4/7/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton, MA
≈ 3 × 2½" (7.4 × 6.6 cm)

Cladonia cristatella (British soldiers, cup lichen)

9/14/2009 · Near Nashoba Hospital, Ayer, MA
≈ 4 × 3½" (10 × 9.3 cm)

Cladonia cristatella (British soldiers, cup lichen)

5/11/2013 · Townsend Wildlife Management Area, Townsend, MA
≈ 3½ × 3½" (8.7 × 8.8 cm)

Cladonia cristatella (British soldiers, cup lichen)

4/7/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton, MA
≈ 4½ × 3" (11 × 7.9 cm)

Cladonia cristatella (British soldiers, cup lichen)

10/6/2011 · Pack Monadnock, 2200', Peterborough, NH
≈ 9 × 6" (22 × 14 cm)

Cladonia cristatella (British soldiers, cup lichen)

3/10/1985 · Dunstable, MA

Cladonia cristatella (British soldiers, cup lichen)

9/14/2009 · Near Nashoba Hospital, Ayer, MA
≈ 4 × 4½" (10 × 11 cm)

Range:

About this map...