A perennial herb of woodland, roadside banks and verges, waste places and rubbish tips. Generally lowland, but reaching 380 m at Glenlivet (Banffs.).
This species is similar to V. major but, being smaller and less invasive, is more widely cultivated and therefore more frequent as an escape. It was grown in gardens in Britain by 995 (Harvey, 1981). There has been an increase in records since the 1962 Atlas, probably due to a genuine increase as well as better recording.
Apparently native to S., W. & C. Europe, C. & S. Russia and the Caucasus, but the limits of the native range have been obscured by its spread in cultivation.