This red-fruited Cladonia species forms taller, relatively wide podetia, which are corticate at bases and the upper part is covered with irregular squamule-like plates. After a few years in a herbarium, small crystals of zeorin are formed on its surface, a feature typical of the lichen and its relatives.
It grows on acidic soil, humus or mossy rocks. The species is common on mountain screes and terricolous communities above the upper tree line. It is also known from sandstone rock formations, serpentinites or anthropogenic stands (such as sludge ponds). In central Europe, C. coccifera is a rather montane species. At lower elevations, it is replaced by related species, mainly C. diversa. The species from the C. coccifera agg. were not distinguished in the past.taxonomic classification:
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