We hypothesized that Strychnos nux-vomica and Strychnos potatorum in seasonal tropical ecosystems have dormant desiccation-tolerant seeds, while those of Strychnos benthamii growing in aseasonal wet habitats have non-dormant desiccation-sensitive seeds. Germination, imbibition, the effect of gibberellic acid on germination and changes in the embryo to seed length ratio (E:S) during incubation were determined for the three species. Seed storage behaviour was identified with the hundred seed test. Time taken for epicotyl emergence was recorded. Radicle emergence of S. nux-vomica, S. potatorum and S. benthamii at 25°C under light/dark conditions (12/12 h) was completed within 76, 49 and 11 d, respectively. S. nux-vomica and S. potatorum seeds incubated on GA3 germinated to a higher percentage than non-treated seeds. E:S of S. nux-vomica, S. potatorum and S. benthamii had increased by 38.2, 34.5 and 25.5%, respectively, at radicle emergence. Shoot emergence of S. nux-vomica, S. potatorum and S. benthamii was observed after 76, 74 and 45 d from radicle emergence, respectively. Thus, it can be concluded that the seeds of all three species have epicotyl morphophysiological dormancy. Hundred seed tests revealed that S. nux-vomica and S. potatorum seeds were desiccation-tolerant, while those of S. benthamii were desiccation-sensitive. Our study showed that species from seasonal habitats (S. nux-vomica and S. potatorum) have desiccation-tolerant morphophysiologically dormant seeds, while those from an aseasonal habitat (S. benthamii) have desiccation-sensitive morphophysiologically dormant seeds, revealing that their dormancy and desiccation tolerance behaviour are adaptations to their environment.