In this paper, 633 species (involving 10 classes, 48 families, 205 genera) collected from the alpine meadow on the eastern Qinghai-Tibet plateau were studied. We tested potential factors affecting variation in mean germination time (MGT), i.e., plant traits (adult longevity, dispersal mode and seed size) or phylogeny, to evaluate if these factors were independent or they had interaction. Nested ANOVA showed that taxonomic membership accounted for the majority of MGT variation (70%), and in the generalized linear model, family membership could explain independently the largest proportion of MGT variation (29%). The strong taxonomic effect suggests that MGT variation within taxonomic membership is constrained. The other plant traits could also explain MGT variation independently (1% by adult longevity and dispersal mode, respectively, and 2% by seed size). Thus, the phylogeny was an important constraint to maintain the stability of species, and we could simplify the question if we regarded the phylogeny as an individual factor, but we could not negate the adaptive significance of the relationship between other plant traits and seed MGT. In addition, a large percentage of the variance remained unexplained by our model, thus important selective factors or parameters may have been left out of this analysis. We suggest that other possible correlates may exist between seed germination time and additional ecological factors (for example, altitude, habitat and post-dispersal predation) or phylogenetic related morphological and physiological seed attributes (e.g., endosperm mass) that were not evaluated in this study.