A small deciduous shrub of rough pastures, old meadows, grassy heaths, cliffs, road verges and field edges on heavy soils, usually calcareous to slightly acidic clays. Lowland.
This species has declined considerably since the 1940s through the loss of old pastures, and is now a rare sight in some counties. Subsp. tinctoria occurs throughout the range of the species; subsp. littoralis is mapped separately.
European Temperate element.