In the development of phylogenetic systematics over the last decade our approach to morphological characters has remained at a preDarwinian level, even as we use ever more sophisticated tools for looking at plants. A largely neglected area is that of the relationship between characters, their states, and organisms. One especially problematic set of issues concerns the documentation of morphological observations and their general availability, whether as measurements, s.e.m.s, etc. (cf. gene sequences in GenBank, and associated voucher specimens). Another concerns the relationships between the observer, observations, characters, and their states. Are there alternative ways an organism can be atomised into characters that would aid our understanding (perhaps think of the monocot flower here)? Are there alternative ways a character can be atomised into states? How can we justify one atomisation over another in any particular situation? Do we have to? Does terminology constrain our vision of the world and, if so, how? Is seeing forgetting the name a thing is called? What is the relationship between the purely morphological and systematic approaches to studying plants? We will discuss these and related issues as they arise during the session.

Key words: character states, characters, morphology, observation, systematic theory, terminology