Seedling emergence of psammophiles (plants restricted to active dunes) was examined with germination experiments and with field observations at the Algodones Dunes, California, U.S.A., and the Sierra del Rosario Dunes, Sonora, Mexico. In the field, perennial psammophiles germinated in response to smaller rainfall triggers (??? 10mm) than other woody desert plants (??? 16mm). In germination experiments, seedlings of three perennial psammophiles, Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii, Helianthus niveus subsp. tephrodes, and Palafoxia arida var. gigantea, emerged in larger numbers from greater soil depths than those of three nonpsammophiles, Cercidium microphyllum, Fouquieria splendens, and Palafoxia arida var. arida. Seed size for these six species did not correlate in any consistent fashion with emergence depth, suggesting that food reserves are not the only variable that ensures emergence of deeply buried psammophile seeds.