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 panicle is broadly pyramidal in shape. When well developed it can support upwards of 100 flowers. There may be a few lanceolate single leaflets below the terminal portion of the inflorescence. The rachis is flexuose; this and the floral branches turn reddish brown and are pubescent with abundant dark-coloured short-stalked glands and rather sparse fine, declining prickles.
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 are slightly yellow-green in colour; they have 3-5 leaflets which are glabrous above. 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.
Leaflets are greenish-grey felted below.
The stem is angled, often with furrowed sides, becoming dark reddish-brown and sometimes slightly pruinose, virtually glabrous (beware hairs from other plants stuck to the stem). The main prickles on the angles are declining, with reddish bases and yellow points. There are abundant short glands and acicles.