An annual or perennial herb, found on dunes and other sandy areas, on acidic grassland on heaths and hills, and in cultivated ground, gardens and waste places. 0-460 m (Clun Forest, Salop), and reportedly to 575 m in Scotland.
V. tricolor was mapped as `all records` in the 1962 Atlas. The current map and local floras suggest that a widespread decline has occurred since then, particularly in S.E. England. Subsp. tricolor occurs throughout the range of the species; subsp. curtisii is mapped separately.
European Temperate element; widely naturalised outside its native range.
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