An aromatic perennial herb of open grassland on sunny banks, sand dunes and roadsides; usually on well-drained, base-rich soils, including sticky calcareous clays that are wet in winter and baked dry in summer. In S.E. England, it is often associated with churchyards because of the medieval practice of sowing it on graves (Sturt, 1995). In Ireland, it is almost exclusively coastal. Lowland.
The decline of S. verbenaca was already apparent in the 1962 Atlas and it has continued, particularly inland and in the north of its range. Most losses are probably due to changes in land use.