A distinctive white-flowered species with strongly plicate leaflets, ovate terminal leaflet, notched and
clawed broadly elliptical petals, white-bordered sepals and a shiny stem. It is largely confined to central southern England, being found mainly on heathland margins (typically in open, sunny situations) across east Dorset, Hampshire and West Sussex. Although placed in the Sylvatici, it shares its appearance with some members of section Rubus and like those is completely eglandular.
It is a high-arching species which usually occurs as single bushes or small clumps.
Flowers have pure white broadly ellpitical petals, 14-15 x 10mm; these are frequently notched at the apex, though the shape and depth of the notch is variable. The base of the petal is sharply contracted into a narrow claw, making the petal look almost round. Stamens are longer than the pale green styles, and often widely spreading. The sepals are pubescent and thinly white-bordered, with long, sharp, often narrowly leafy tips. Sepals are reflexed and strongly concave inside.
Leaves usually have five leaflets (sometimes three); the basal ones may be slightly imbricate. The leaflets are plicate (or corrugated), glabrescent and rather matt in appearance above; a yellowish-green or pale greyish-green in colour. The terminal leaflet is ovate with a cordate (or emarginate) base and a broad, medium-length acuminate apex (which is sometimes poorly differentiated from the rest of the leaf). The margin is evenly and fairly shallowly serrate.
Leaflets are thinly pubescent but not felted below, though they can be grey-felted in the panicle.
The stem is moderately robust, sharply angled with flat faces, bright green to red or reddish-brown in colour and somewhat shining. Sparse short hairs are usually present. The prickles (always on the angles) are red-based and yellow-pointed, about the same or a little longer than the stem diameter, almost patent to declining. The photos below indicate that unusually the prickles point both upwards and downwards on the same portion of stem.
A stem in deep shade. The abundant sessile glands may be a useful feature in distinguishing from R. platyacanthus, which also has a glabrescent, eglandular stem with patent prickles.