Seed germination behavior is an important factor in the distribution of species. Many studies have shown that germination is controlled by phylogenetic constraints, however, it is not clear whether phylogenetic constraints or environmental cues explain seed germination of a genus from a common ancestor. In this study, seed germination under different temperature-and water-regimes [induced by different osmotic potentials of polyethylene glycol (PEG)] was investigated in the phylogenetically-related Caragana species that thrive in arid, semiarid, semihumid and humid environments. The results showed that the final percentage germination (FPG) decreased from 95% in species from arid habitats to 0% in species from humid habitats, but with no significant phylogenetic signal. Rather, the response of seed germination to temperature and PEG varied greatly with species from arid to humid habitats and was tightly linked to the ecological niche of the species, their seed coat structure and abscisic acid concentration. The findings are not consistent with the hypothesis that within a family or a genus, seed germination strategies can be a stable evolutionary trait, thus constraining interspecific variation, but the results clearly show that seed germination of Caragana species distributed across a range of habitats has adapted to the environment of that habitat.