This perennial herb is found in open woods and woodland rides, on banks, in grassland and on heathland. It grows on well-drained, often moderately acidic or leached soils, and in some grasslands is confined to raised ground or anthills. 0-880 m (Cadair Idris, Merioneth).
The broad distribution of V. officinalis is little changed, though there have clearly been local declines where its habitats have been lost, particularly in the English Midlands. It was mapped as `all records` in the 1962 Atlas.
European Boreo-temperate element; widely naturalised outside its native range.