A monocarpic perennial herb of mires, fens, marshes, damp grassland, rush-pastures, wet woodland, montane springs and flushes, and tall-herb vegetation on mountain ledges. It reproduces by seed, which may persist for many years, as, for example, during the dark phase of a coppice cycle. 0-760 m (Cross Fell, Cumberland), and 845 m on Great Dun Fell (Westmorland).
There has been no overall change in the distribution of C. palustre since the 1962 Atlas.
Eurosiberian Boreo-temperate element; widely naturalised outside its native range.