Management of riparian vegetation is difficult because these communities are frequently impacted by herbivores, invasive weeds, and altered hydrologic regimes. Multiple and intertwined factors affecting rare species recruitment are particularly difficult to identify. Gaura neomexicana ssp. coloradensis Munz (Gaura) is a short-lived perennial forb endemic to riparian areas in mixed-grass prairies of Wyoming, Nebraska, and Colorado, U.S.A. It became a federally listed threatened species in October 2000. Because the species is a recruitment-limited monocarpic perennial, we studied the effects of six capsule-collection dates, a 2-month cool-moist stratification, 24-hr leaching, and 24-hr imbibition on Gaura seedling emergence. Seedling emergence did not vary with collection date. Capsules collected from Gaura plants grown at the Bridger Plant Materials Center in Montana exhibited greater emergence than capsules harvested from endemic populations near Cheyenne, Wyoming, suggesting that maternal plant growing conditions impact dormancy. Because cool-moist stratification enhanced seedling emergence of Gaura and leaching did not, sufficient moisture during cool temperatures may be more critical than leaching of germination inhibitors as might occur with normal stream flows. Spring flooding may enhance Gaura recruitment by increasing the availability of riparian sites that are inundated during periods of cool temperatures. If so, hydrologic and climatic regimes must be considered in restoring the unique conditions needed for germination of this rare riparian endemic.