This pink-flowered species is identical in many respects to R. nemoralis apart from its much smaller leaves and low-growing habit. Historically it was treated as a variety of that species, but it appears to be genetically distinct. It is widespread but scattered over the UK and Ireland, though not recorded from Wales. It is common on the grazed heaths of the New Forest in Hampshire.
Like R. nemoralis the panicle is rather broad, with divergent branches and a truncate top. The rachis is red, pubescent, with scattered short-stalked glands.
Flowers have broadly elliptical pink petals, often with a shallow notch at the tip. The styles are green or pale yellow, sometimes pinkish at the base. Stamens slightly exceed the styles. Sepals are long-pointed, sometimes leafy-tipped, patent after flowering.
Leaves have (3-)5 somewhat imbricate leaflets, which are a rather matt, dull green colour above, with a brown/bronzy tinge, especially around the margins. The terminal leaflet is only about 4-5cm long, elliptical, with an emarginate to subcordate base and an acuminate apex. The leaflets are flat to slightly concave with fairly strongly marked veins and neat-looking, sharply serrate toothing.
Leaflets are greenish to greenish-grey felted below.
The first-year stem is similar to that of R. nemoralis, being bluntly ridged with at least one side furrowed, turning red in the sun. It has frequent scattered, long simple and tufted hairs, but no stalked glands. Prickles are fairly numerous, long, stout, gently curved or downturned.