A tufted perennial herb, especially of acidic grassland, frequent in upland pastures, Nardus grassland and Calluna moorland. It is also common on lowland heaths, in damp meadows, woodland rides and edges, in ruderal habitats, and sometimes in moderately base-rich flushes and dune-slacks. It can be frequent in meadows which have been improved, and have then regressed. 0-1005 m (Lochnagar, S. Aberdeen).
C. ovalis was mapped as `all records` in the 1962 Atlas. It has remained widespread and common, other than in S. and E. England where there have been many local losses.
Eurosiberian Boreo-temperate element; widely naturalised outside its native range.