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Poincianella pyramidalis Tul. (catingueira) is an endemic legume of the semiarid northeast that fits well in the context of Brazilian forest species that still lack of studies on the ideal conditions for their development and establishment in the field. Thus, the aim of this study was to evaluate the initial growth of seedlings of the species subjected to different substrates and light levels. Catingueira seedlings were grown in three light conditions (100, 50 and 30%) and three substrates: Soil (So), Sand (Sa) and Soil + Sand (So + Sa). After six months, the seedlings were evaluated for diameter, height, number of leaves and dry weight. The seedlings grown at 30 and 50% light, in So and So + Sa showed the best results for all of the variables analyzed, suggesting that during the initial growth catingueira seedlings have higher nutritional requirement and certain degree of shading can be interesting for seedling development under the growth conditions examined.