Thallus: podetia 3-6 cm tall, grey-white, lacking green coloration (see var. tenuis) due to the absence of usnic acid, the upper part often suffused with a distinct purple-brown colour towards the tips, richly-branched; terminal branches ± downturned, distinctly orientated in one direction, the branching predominantly dichotomous at the apices, axils rarely perforated; young tips slender, to 0.8 mm diam. Anamorph: conidiomata pycnidia, with red jelly-like contents. Teleomorph: ascomata apothecia, brown, inconspicuous, rather rare. Chemistry: thallus C–, K–, KC–, Pd+ red, UV– (fumarprotocetraric acid).