Apomixis is a very common characteristic in vascular plants. It occurs in two general forms: either subversion of the sexual system (agamospermous seeds or apogamous sporophytes in non-seed plants) or vegetative reproduction. In this communication, only the mutational consequences of vegetative reproduction are considered. Vegetative reproduction involves the replication of apical meristems, especially shoot apical meristems. Three general types of shoot apical meristems occur in the vascular plants: single tetrahedral apical initial, unstratified with impermanent initials and stratified with impermanent initials. Each meristem type has different consequences with regard to mutation, diplontic selection and the possibility of mutational meltdown. © 2003 The Linnean Society of London. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2003, 79, 61–67.