An aestivating perennial herb that grows in woods, hedge banks, meadows, roadsides, maritime grassland, the banks of rivers and streams and shaded waste ground. It prefers damp, loamy or clay soils, and avoids very dry, very acidic or permanently waterlogged sites. 0?750 m (Loch Lochy, Westerness), but probably higher elsewhere in Scotland.
The distribution of R. ficaria is stable. Losses at the fringe of its Scottish range probably reflect a lack of recent fieldwork in spring. The species is morphologically and cytologically variable; the two native subspecies are mapped separately.
European Southern-temperate element.