This bramble is probably widespread through much of lowland England, but to date has only been well recorded in the South East. It has
adventive tendencies, i.e. it quickly invades disturbed ground and can be found on roadsides, in woodland clearings, abandoned pastures and urban habitats. It can occur as single plants, small patches or sometimes in large clumps up to 10 x 10m or more. It is one of the more difficult species to recognise due to its variable appearance, but the red spotted or blotched stems are distinctive. It is also unusual in that short-stalked glands are often numerous in the inflorescence but absent from the stem.
Petals are pale pink but quickly fade to white in the sun. The top of the inflorescence is tightly congested, especially when growing in the open. The reddening at the base of the turned-over sepals after the petals fall is very noticeable in this species, though is a fairly common feature amongst brambles.
The flowers are medium-sized, around 2.5cm across. They have long stamens and pale or reddish-based styles. The petals are often slightly notched.
This species is mostly found growing in open situations, when the leaves can be fairly distinctive, being yellowish-green in colour, thickly textured, glabrous above, strongly grey or nearly white-felted below, with sharply and often deeply toothed, crinkled margins. The terminal leaflet is broadly elliptical to obovate (wider above the middle) with a long attenuated apex, which is often curved to the side. There is quite a strong resemblance to the leaves of Rubus armeniacus with which this species can often be found growing, but in general the leaves of R. cissburiensis are narrower and never strongly white below.
Terminal leaflet undersides of open-grown and shade plants:
Stems are sparsely hairy in shade-grown plants, but more usually completely glabrous. The prickles tend to be long, fine and straight, and perpendicular to slightly declining. Note the reddish blotching in the photos below. Stems exposed to strong sun turn deep red.