Shoot regeneration after prescribed burning or following the freezing temperatures of winter was monitored for nineteen heathland species present in an Arctostaphyleto-Callunetum community in northeast Scotland. Species whose renewal buds were near the surface of the ground started to grow earlier in the spring than species with renewal buds above the surface, but grouping species according to the position of their renewal bud (i.e. their life-form) did not account for all of the interspecific variation apparent. In the case of shoot regeneration after fire, species whose renewal buds were destroyed by fire because they were above-ground started to regenerate about the same time as species with belowground buds, protected from fire, but reached their maximum frequency of occurrence later. Grouping species by life-form was of limited value as a means of interpreting this interspecific variation in the timing of shoot regeneration after fire. It would be unwise to use plant life-form as the sole basis for interpreting or predicting a species' response to temperature stress when extreme temperatures occur regularly, as they do in heathland. The possible use of other plant traits to interpret and predict interspecific variation in the regeneration rate of heathland plants is discussed.