A tuberous perennial herb of well-drained hill pastures, streamsides, mountain grasslands and cliff ledges on a range of dry, acidic or calcareous soils; also on recently burnt moorland, but not persisting when Calluna regrows. Rarely, it occurs in acidic Quercus woodland. 0-550 m (Ben Chaisteil, Main Argyll).
Many lowland sites for P. albida were lost before 1930 due to habitat destruction, agricultural improvement and overgrazing. There have been continued losses since then, although it is now much better recorded. However, it is inconspicuous and may be under-recorded in some areas, especially in the uplands.
European Boreal-montane element; also in N. America.