Germination ecology was investigated in a natural population of Xyris longiscapa, a perennial herbaceous species endemic to the Brazilian campo rupestre. Seeds were collected over four consecutive years (2014 to 2017) to evaluate germination responses to a range of temperatures (from 15 to 30°C). The light requirement was evaluated in seeds collected in 2014. Seeds collected in 2014 were also buried in soil in the natural habitat of the species to evaluate changes in germinability at different temperatures over the time. Seeds showed an absolute light requirement for germination. Seed germination was affected by temperature, collection year and the interaction between these two factors. Seeds collected in 2014 showed a narrower temperature range for germination (15–20°C), compared with the seeds collected in 2015, 2016 and 2017 that germinated in a temperature range of 15–25°C. Buried seeds remained viable in soil for at least 14 months and exhibited seasonal dormancy cycling. Secondary dormancy was induced during the rainy season and alleviated during the dry season, following a conditional dormancy/dormancy cycle. The degree of primary dormancy appeared to be influenced by the environmental conditions experienced by seeds during maturation. Primary dormancy (when present), seed persistence in soil and seasonal dormancy cycles are strategies of X. longiscapa to enhance regeneration success in the harsh environment of the Brazilian campo rupestre.