The branched glucans glycogen and starch are the most widespread storage carbohydrates in living organisms. The production of semicrystalline starch granules in plants is more complex than that of small, soluble glycogen particles in microbes and animals. However, the factors determining whether glycogen or starch is formed are not fully understood. The tropical tree Cecropia peltata is a rare example of an organism able to make either polymer type. Electron micrographs and quantitative measurements show that glycogen accumulates to very high levels in specialized myrmecophytic structures (Müllerian bodies), whereas starch accumulates in leaves. Compared with polymers comprising leaf starch, glycogen is more highly branched and has shorter branches—factors that prevent crystallization and explain its solubility. RNA sequencing and quantitative shotgun proteomics reveal that isoforms of all three classes of glucan biosynthetic enzyme (starch/glycogen synthases, branching enzymes, and debranching enzymes) are differentially expressed in Müllerian bodies and leaves, providing a system-wide view of the quantitative programming of storage carbohydrate metabolism. This work will prompt targeted analysis in model organisms and cross-species comparisons. Finally, as starch is the major carbohydrate used for food and industrial applications worldwide, these data provide a basis for manipulating starch biosynthesis in crops to synthesize tailor-made polyglucans.