Senna multijuga and Plathymenia reticulata are tropical tree species native to the Brazilian Atlantic Forest and the Brazilian Cerrado, respectively. Seed-coat dormancy variation was evaluated within and among natural populations of these two species. Scarified and non-scarified seeds from different plants within populations were germinated at 28°C, and the percentage of germinated seeds was estimated for both species. Mean germination percentages of non-scarified seeds tended to be higher for P. reticulata populations (40 and 62%) than for S. multijuga populations (9 and 35%). After scarification, germination percentages increased significantly in both species, with all populations showing mean values above 84%. The level of seed dormancy, evaluated through the experiment with non-scarified seeds, differed significantly within and among populations of both species (P < 0.05). The values of the coefficient of genotypic determination were high for populations of both species (b = 0.85). Although this coefficient is an overestimation, since it includes non-genetic maternal effects, its high values suggest that a considerable part of the phenotypic variation in seed dormancy in S. multijuga and P. reticulata is of genetic origin. Variation in seed dormancy can be an important factor for increasing genetic diversity in populations of these species, making them able to respond to environmental changes.