This perennial herb is found in a wide range of woodland habitats, generally preferring those where there is some base-enrichment and where the soil is moist and clayey. In many woods it is particularly frequent along the sides of paths or rutted tracks. It is occasionally found in open scrub and damp grassland, but likely to be a woodland relic in such places. Generally lowland, but reaching 565 m on Ben Bulben (Co. Sligo), and reportedly at 640 m in the Scottish Highlands.
There has been no significant change in the distribution of C. sylvatica since the 1962 Atlas, and it is now better recorded.
Eurasian Temperate element.