The Latin specific epithet sylvestris means “growing in woodland”.However it tolerates a range of conditions including fields, hedgerows, open woods, marshes and fens. It will grow in light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. It was used as a vegetable until the 20th century. The plant prevents scurvy, and it can be stored. The stem was eaten fresh, and the leaves could be boiled to a stew for storage. It could later be cooked up with milk into a tasty dish. The plant has also been used for dyeing.
Often this species needs to be planted just before the frost or needs a long period of cold for Stratification, so its seed dormancy can be overcome.