This bramble is locally abundant in shady acid woodlands, occurring over much of southern England, especially in the drier south-east. The zigzag stems, which give it its scientific name, are more markedly so than in any other species, and tend to creep over the ground. Other important identification features are the narrow, pointed, usually bright pink petals and the large leaves which commonly have only three, shallowly toothed leaflets.
The red styles of the flowers are usually clearly visible due to the moderately short stamens. The second photo below shows a more typically coloured flower. The panicle is narrow and elongated, which in the photo above, due to the faded petals, bears a resemblance to R. insectifolius, though that species has broader petals. A distinctive feature of the R. flexuosus panicle is the upper leaf, which usually consists of a single, large leafet (see first photo above), often more than 10cm long.
Leaflets are sparsely hairy above, clothed with a thin layer of appressed hairs below, giving a pale green appearance, though this can disappear in older leaves. The tip is often quite short in relation to the overall length. Leaves with 4 or 5 leaflets can occur on stems growing in the open. The terminal leaflet is slightly convex and broadly elliptical, but the widest point can fall just below or just above the middle.
Stems are usually quite slender. They have narrow-based, finely-pointed main prickles on the angles and some on the faces as well. They are densely covered with fairly short glands and acicles (both are needle-like structures with or without glands at the tip), mixed with simple hairs. Consequently they are quite rough to the touch, a common feature of many Radulae (which derives from the Latin for
rasp). The stem below was photographed in full sun and is moderately robust, with well-developed armature. When identifying brambles in general it is always best to look at stems exposed to the sun where possible, as those growing in deep shade may have poorly developed prickles and colour.