ABSTRACT Cereus hildmannianus K. Schum is a columnar cactus native to South and Southeast Brazil. The cultivation of this species seems justifiable for several reasons: its fruits are spineless and edible; it is not threatened with extinction; it naturally occurs in Pampa and Atlantic Forest under non-xeric conditions that may be unsuitable for the cultivation of other tropical cacti; and the plants are pollinator-dependent and so should benefit from native pollinators. This study aimed to test seed germination of C. hildmannianus with samples collected at three different localities in southern Brazil, as a necessary step preceding any attempts of management and domestication. Seeds were exposed to temperatures of 20° C, 25° C, 30° C and room temperature. The germinability, average germination time and synchronization index were calculated. All samples showed higher germinability at 20° C and 25° C. Seeds from Caçapava do Sul and Santiago showed significant variation in the synchronization index at 25° C and 30° C, respectively. Seeds from Porto Alegre had maximum germinability, indicating greater vigor. Our results show that the seeds of C. hildmannianus germinate well and thrive within a wide range of temperatures and that cultivation of the species from seed-raised plants should not be problematic.