A deciduous sub-shrub of more or less prostrate habit, with a woody base and root-stock, producing numerous erect stems 11⁄2 to 4 in. high, the younger parts of which are covered with the membranous, hairy, densely sheathing bases of the leaves. Leaves pinnate, 1 to 3 in. long, consisting of eight to fifteen pairs of leaflets which are linear-oblong, pointed, 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long, 1⁄12 in. wide, stalkless, the upper surface covered with whitish hairs; not so hairy beneath; main-stalk hairy. Flowers produced in June, closely packed in a hemispherical head which is 1 to 11⁄2 in. wide and borne at the top of an erect, hairy stalk 2 to 6 in. high. The corolla is pea-flower shaped, the standard petal 3⁄8 in. long and 1⁄4 in. wide, rosy pink with a dark stain in the centre.
Native of the mountains of S. and S.E. Europe from Spain to the Balkan Peninsula, often on limestone; introduced according to Aiton in 1759. It is a neat and pleasing plant for a sunny spot in the rock garden and is quite hardy. The leaves in its native regions are usually whiter than under our duller skies, sometimes almost silvery. The species is found in its typical state only as far east as the Swiss Jura. Further east it is replaced by var. jacquinii (Kern.) Beck, in which the flowers are paler, without the blotch on the standard, and the leaves covered with a thinner indumentum of appressed hairs. In the Maritime Alps and in N. Italy a form occurs distinguished as f. atropurpurea Vukot., with smaller but more deeply coloured flowers.