As a consequence of previous lack of success in cryostoring axes excised from newly shed seeds of Trichilia dregeana, the effects of the mode of axis excision on seedling production were investigated. Although vigorous root production occurred, no shoots were produced when the cotyledons were severed as closely as possible to the axis surface (explant-type 0). In contrast, shoot production was increasingly facilitated when small to larger segments of cotyledonary tissue were left attached to the axes (explant-types 1, 2 and 4), which did not compromise axis drying rate. However, root growth of explant-types 1, 2 and 4 was negatively affected, probably by leakage into the medium of an inhibitory or toxic substance(s) from the cut surfaces of the cotyledonary tissue. Microscopical examination revealed that the cotyledons were sessile, and their insertions were contiguous with the shoot apex in axes from newly shed seeds, leading to the suggestion that failure of shoot production by type 0 explants in vitro was the direct consequence of the proximity of the wound sites to the apical meristem. When seeds were stored hydrated for 6 months, the shoot apex had elongated, positioning the apical meristem some distance from the top of the cotyledonary insertions. In contrast to axes excised as type 0 explants from newly shed seeds, the equivalent explants from the stored seeds rapidly formed shoots and leaves in vitro. This indicates that the developmental status of axes, when excised, dictates failure or success in their further development in vitro, and that this aspect needs to be resolved before any further manipulations for cryostorage are attempted.