The beauty and complexity of flowers have held the fascination of scientists for centuries, from Linnaeus, to Goethe, to Darwin, through to the present. During the past decade, enormous progress has been made in understanding the molecular regulation of flower morphogenesis. It seems likely that there are both highly conserved aspects to flower development in addition to significant differences in developmental patterning that can contribute to the unique morphologies of different species. Furthermore, floral development is attractive in that several key genes regulating fundamental processes have been identified. Crucial functional studies of floral organ identity genes in diverse taxa are allowing the real insight into the conservation of gene function, while findings on the genetic control of organ elaboration open up new avenues for investigation. These fundamentals of floral organ differentiation and growth are therefore an ideal subject for comparative analyses of flower development, which will lead to a better understanding of molecular mechanisms that control flower morphogenesis.