A deciduous shrub or small tree of fertile soils in a wide range of habitats including woodland, hedgerows, grassland, scrub, waste ground, roadsides and railway banks. It is resistant to rabbit grazing and often occurs around warrens. 0-470 m (above Nenthead, Cumberland).
The current range of S. nigra is similar to that shown in the 1962 Atlas. It may have been originally introduced at some sites, but it is often impossible to distinguish native and alien occurrences, especially as it has often spread naturally by bird-sown seeds. In N. Scotland it is often restricted to the vicinity of human settlements.
European Temperate element; widely naturalised outside its native range.