Most Pinus species are obligate seeders. Thus, knowledge of germination characteristics can help in the understanding, prediction and manipulation of the regeneration and dynamics of pine forests. Seven pine species with contrasting habitat preferences and different genetic pairwise distances are present in the Iberian Peninsula and the Canary Islands: P. halepensis, P. nigra, P. pinaster, P. pinea, P. sylvestris, P. uncinata and P. canariensis. These seven pine species comprise an exceptional experimental set to test some questions related to germination traits, such as: (1) What are the effects of light and temperature on germination, taking into account interpopulation variability? (2) Is there any association of germination traits with habitat (montane versus lowland) preferences? and (3) What is the relationship between germination traits and the genetic distance between pine species? P. nigra, P. sylvestris and P. uncinata seeds showed faster germination rates. Seeds of P. nigra and P. sylvestris reached high total germination percentages in every temperature and light treatment, suggesting an opportunistic germination strategy. Unlike montane pines, lowland pines did show significant effects of temperature on germination response: final germination was higher between 15°C and 20°C than at warmer and alternating temperatures. Relatively low temperatures associated with the winter rainy season would favour germination of most of these species. Nested models showed that population variability was the main source of variation in germination response. Thus, there is no phylogenetic control of the germination response and, surprisingly, germination traits were not related to habitat preferences. As a consequence, we believe that studies of the germination characteristics of a pine species should consider different populations.