Abstract In vitro propagation of Quassia amara L. (Simaroubaceae) was attempted using mature and juvenile explants. Attempts to establish in vitro culture using leaf and internode explants from a plant more than 15 yr old were unsuccessful due to severe phenolic exudation. Plant regeneration through direct and indirect somatic embryogenesis was established from cotyledon explants. Murashige and Skoog (MS) medium with 8.9 μM N6-benzyladenine (BA) and 11.7 μM silver nitrate induced the highest number (mean of 32.4 embryos per cotyledon) of somatic embryos. Direct somatic embryogenesis as well as callus formation was observed on medium with BA (8.9–13.3 μM). Semi-mature pale green cotyledons were superior for the induction of somatic embryos. Embryos developed from the adaxial side as well as from the point of excision of the embryonic axis. More embryos were developed on the proximal end compared to mid and distal regions of the cotyledons. Subculture of callus (developed along with the somatic embryos on medium with BA alone) onto medium containing 8.9 μM BA and 11.7 μM silver nitrate produced a mean of 17.1 somatic embryos. Primary somatic embryos cultured on MS medium with 8.9 μM BA and 11.7 μM silver nitrate produced a mean of 9.4 secondary somatic embryos. Most of the embryos developed up to early cotyledonary stage. Reduced concentration of BA (2.2 or 4.4 μM) improved maturation and conversion of embryos to plantlets. Ninety percent of the embryos converted to plantlets. The optimized protocol facilitated recovery of 30 plantlets per cotyledon explant within 80 d. Plantlets transferred to small cups were subsequently transferred to field conditions with a survival rate of 90%.