The floral ontogeny of two species of Knema and one of Horsfieldia was examined and described using scanning electron microscopy. The perianth is trimerous with three tepals arising in succession. Pistillate flowers have a rounded floral apex with a convex top. The single carpel primordium is initiated along the margin of the bud and develops a plicate shape with an apical bilobed stigma. In staminate flowers, the floral apex is broadly hemispherical with a somewhat three-sided shape. Several anther primordia are initiated almost simultaneously around the margin of the floral apex. In Horsfieldia, stamens extend laterally in antetepalous groups, whereas, in Knema, anthers form two whorls. The alternitepalous stamens were found to be different from the antetepalous stamens, which are pressed within a limited space. The anther primordia remain adnate to the receptacle and grow longitudinally, producing a pair of microsporangia. The central area of the floral apex persists as an undifferentiated residuum without any trace of a gynoecium. Myristicaceous anthers are basically homologous, although the number of anthers, pollen sacs and shape of the androecium are variable. The evolution of the androecium is discussed in the family, with opposing possibilities for reductions and increases in anther number in Myristicaceae. © 2010 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2010, 164, 42–52.