Apomixis and polyploidy have been important in the evolution of the angiosperms, and sporophytic apomixis has been associated with polyembryony and polyploidy in tropical floras. We studied the occurrence of polyembryony in populations of tetraploid Anemopaegma acutifolium, A. arvense and A. glaucum from the Brazilian cerrados, and histological features of sexual and apomictic processes were investigated in A. acutifolium. All populations and species were polyembryonic (68.9–98.4% of seeds). Normal double fertilization occurred in most ovules, with exceptions being that 3% of ovules were penetrated but not fertilized and in 4% of ovules both synergids were penetrated. The penetration of both synergids suggests a continuous attraction of pollen tubes and polyspermy. Adventitious embryo precursor cells (AEPs) arose from nucellar and integumental cells of the ovule in pollinated and unpollinated A. acutifolium, indicating sporophytic apomixis. However, further embryo and endosperm development required pollination and fertilization. This pseudogamy also allows concurrent sexual embryo development. Similar polyembryony rates and polyploidy indicated that A. arvense and A. glaucum are also apomictic, forming an agamic complex similar to that observed for some species of confamilial, but not closely related Handroanthus. The co-occurrence of apomixis and polyploidy in different groups of Bignoniaceae indicates homoplasious origin of these agamic complexes. © 2013 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2013, 173, 77–91.