This is a widespread bramble in NW Europe, which is especially common in southern Britain and western Ireland. It therefore appears to prefer damper heathland and wood margins in mild climates. Dwarf forms with small leaves frequently occur, especially on grazed heathlands. On some sites it may be the only bramble present, or the most abundant. It is a pink-flowered species with well-armed stems and distinctive leaves which have a short petiolule and retrorse teeth on the leaflets. Although placed in the Sylvatici, it usually has short-stalked glands at the top of the rachis and sometimes grey-felted leaflets, so can be mistaken for a member of the Rhamnifolii.
As suggested by its name the panicle is usually pyramidal in shape, composed of a large terminal cluster of flowers on the main rachis and smaller ones on long ascending branches below, all on peduncles of 2-5cm, so giving a fairly open appearance. There are usually one or two single leaflets below the main inflorescence, with 3-foliate ones below; these often have a long acuminate apex. The rachis is slightly flexuose, dark red, pubescent with short-stalked glands especially at the top and on the pedicels. The prickles on the rachis are long, fine, declining, yellow with a red base.
Flowers are fairly large, about 2.5cm diameter, with broadly elliptical to obovate petals, 13 x 8mm; the styles are greenish and are only slightly exceeded by the stamens, which have white filaments and glabrous anthers. The receptacle is hairy.
The sepals are pubescent with numerous (often red-dotted) short-stalked glands and a few acicles. They have medium to long, finely-pointed tips. After flowering they are loosely reflexed to patent.
Leaves usually have five leaflets, the terminal leaflet often with a relatively short petiole, about a quarter to a third of the leaf length. This leaflet may therefore slightly overlap the lateral leaflets. Leaflets are light green to yellowish green and almost glabrous above. The lateral veins appear to be relatively widely spaced and each ends in a prominent sharp tooth, which may be patent or curve downwards along the margin (retrorse). This also gives rise to an undulate leaf edge. The shape of the terminal leaflet is elliptical to slightly obovate, but varying somewhat in proportion of length to width. The base is entire to emarginate and it has an acuminate or cuspidate-acuminate apex, which can be quite long.
Leaflets are softly pubescent below, i.e. green-felted or sometimes appearing grey-felted. A helpful feature for confirming identification is the presence of long hairs along the midrib and main veins,
pectinately arranged, like the teeth of a comb.
The first-year stem is bluntly angled with flat sides, reddish brown to dark purple in colour, always pubescent (sometimes sparsely so) and has numerous strong, slightly declining prickles, which are longer than the stem diamater (see also the photos above). The stem is usually eglandular, but the last photo is of a specimen with numerous long-stalked glands, which perhaps had hybridised with another species.