Position-dependent regulation of growth is important for shaping organs in multicellular organisms. We have characterized the role of JAGGED, a gene that encodes a protein with a single C(2)H(2) zinc-finger domain, in controlling the morphogenesis of lateral organs in Arabidopsis thaliana. Loss of JAGGED function causes organs to have serrated margins. In leaves, the blade region is most severely affected. In sepals, petals and stamens, the strongest defects are seen in the distal regions. By monitoring cell-cycle activity in developing petals with the expression of HISTONE 4, we show that JAGGED suppresses the premature differentiation of tissues, which is necessary for the formation of the distal region. The localization of defects overlaps with the expression domain of JAGGED, which is restricted to the growing regions of lateral organs. JAGGED expression is notably absent from the cryptic bract, the remnant of a leaf-like organ that subtends the flower in many species but does not normally develop in wild-type Arabidopsis. If misexpressed, JAGGED can induce the formation of bracts, suggesting that the exclusion of JAGGED from the cryptic bract is a cause of bractless flowers in Arabidopsis.