Seed dormancy and seed longevity partially determine the crucial stages of germination and establishment of seedlings for rare Cactaceae in arid environments. We studied the effect of seed age and seed dormancy on germination and seedling establishment of an endangered species of cactus (Mammillaria huitzilopochtli) from Oaxaca, Mexico, in controlled and natural conditions. Germination experiments were conducted in greenhouse conditions and seedling survival was assessed in controlled and natural areas. We found that M. huitzilopochtli has non-dormant seeds and that germination occurred during the first seven days after sowing for seeds less than one year old (x = 90%). Germination decreased with time, which indicated that this species might be able to form a transient seed bank (maximum one year old). Scarification treatments in M. huitzilopochtli did not interact with seed age response and did not enhance germination percentages, asserting that seeds are nondormant. When compared with other species of the same genus inhabiting the same region, we conclude that dormancy in cacti is probably more related to environmental heterogeneity than to phylogenetic constraints. Similar to the majority of cacti species, seedlings of M. huitzilopochtli only established in shade conditions. The seeds and seedling traits of this endangered species must be taken into account for conservation programs. Because few seeds were produced yearly, no seeds could be stored at room conditions for long time periods (> 2 yr) and seedling survival was low (mean = 13.75%).
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