A loosely tufted perennial herb, intolerant of grazing, found in partially shaded sites in woodland, on river banks and roadside margins on free-draining, mainly base-rich, soils. It is also found in mountain areas in gullies, on cliffs and rock-ledges. 0-810 m (Creag na Caillich, Mid Perth).
The overall distribution of E. caninus is stable. A variant with unawned lemmas, formerly described as Agropyron donianum, occurs on limestone rocks in C. and N. Scotland.
Eurosiberian Boreo-temperate element.
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