This wiry perennial herb can be easily missed sprouting in sand dunes around the coast. It is absent from Shetland, and a more robust form of it grows further inland on lime-rich rocks in the Southern Highlands. Lesser Meadow-Rue has many sub species all of which are very similar and hard to differentiate.
It has a short root stock and thin branching stems, sometimes slightly grooved, with stalked leaves that grow alternately up the stem. Leaves are pinnate, i.e with leaflets either side of the leaf stalks. Leaflets themselves are divided into 3-5 wedge-shaped lobes. This leaf structure is very similar to the Maidenhair fern and the plant’s leaves have been used in flower arranging as a background for other flowers.
The flowers are rather insignificant, having no petals, just sepals and stamens. The sepals are 4 or 5 in number, and green or purplish. The stamens are 5mm long, with yellow anthers of 3mm and tapered at the tips. Flowers grow in arrangements of several short branches and are quick to wither on the stem.
The fruit is a hard dry greyish achene, ridged and sharply pointed.