Climate may determine changes in seed dormancy in the short and the long term, shaping plant responses to global change. Fernández-Pascual et al. investigate germination in Centaurium somedanum, a narrow endemic species, using seeds collected from different wild populations along a local altitudinal gradient and seeds of a subsequent generation produced in a common garden. They find a local dormancy cline that is related to climatic differences between sites and to population genetic composition. This cline is further affected by the weather conditions during seed maturation, which influence the receptiveness to dormancy-breaking factors. The presence of intraspecific variation at such a local scale highlights the great potential of physiological dormancy to adapt to environmental changes.