Stomata, the small pores on the surfaces of leaves and stalks, regulate the flow of gases in and out of leaves and thus plants as a whole. They adapt to local and global changes on all timescales from minutes to millennia. Recent data from diverse fields are establishing their central importance to plant physiology, evolution and global ecology. Stomatal morphology, distribution and behaviour respond to a spectrum of signals, from intracellular signalling to global climatic change. Such concerted adaptation results from a web of control systems, reminiscent of a 'scale-free' network, whose untangling requires integrated approaches beyond those currently used.