This attractive species can be recognised by its large, diffuse panicles of slender, often interlaced branches bearing numerous small pink star-like flowers. Other features include the glabrous stem (unusual for series Radulae) and the felted leaves. This is a widespread European species which in Britain is mainly found in central and south-east England. It tends to occur as single bushes or small colonies.
The flowers have narrow elliptical bright pink petals, 8-10 x 3-5mm. The sharply-pointed patent to erect sepals are covered in red-tipped short-stalked glands. The styles are green and are exceeded by the stamens.
Leaves have 3-5 leaflets which are glabrous above and usually greenish-grey felted below. The terminal leaflet, c.8-11cm in length, is variable in shape from broadly elliptical to obovate or nearly rhomboid, with a long acuminate apex. The entire base (which does not curve in at the junction with the petiole) is probably a useful character, along with the shallowly but unevenly serrate margin; the larger teeth curve downwards slightly.
The stem is angled, often with furrowed sides, becoming dark reddish-brown or deep purple in colour, and sometimes slightly pruinose. The main prickles on the angles are declining, with reddish bases and yellow points. There are abundant short glands and acicles which give the rough look and feel typical of the series. Middle photo by Mike Shaw.