Phenotypic characters, either morphological or chemical, have shown to be insufficient to delimit species boundaries in the genus Cladonia. The present study addresses the circumscription of species within the Cladonia cariosa group, examining a number of specimens of the currently accepted taxa Cladonia cariosa, C. symphycarpa, C. acuminata, C. subcariosa and C. latiloba. We employed maximum likelihood and Bayesian methods of phylogenetic reconstructions based on DNA sequences of ITS, rpb2 and ef1α regions. Our results show that the C. cariosa group consists of at least four phylogenetic lineages. It is also shown that each of these lineages is chemically variable, which restricts the taxonomic value of the chemical differences within the group. However, anatomical differences, such as squamule surface and cortex structure, were found to correlate with the distinct lineages found in the phylogenetic analysis. This result confirms the taxonomic value of the cortical surface under SEM, as was found in other lichen groups.