An annual of grassy and wayside places, particularly on dry and sandy sites. It was also grown as a fodder crop, and has widely escaped and become naturalised in many ruderal habitats. Lowland.
There is little change in the distribution of V. sativa since the 1962 Atlas. Three subspecies are found in our area (subsp. nigra, subsp. segetalis and subsp. sativa) and these are mapped separately. The map overestimates the native distribution as subsp. nigra has been over-recorded as a native at inland sites.
European Southern-temperate element; widely naturalised outside its native range.