Floral initiation can be analyzed from a developmental perspective by focusing upon how developmental fates are imprinted, remembered, and expressed. This is not an altogether new perspective, since people studying flowering have been concerned for a long time with the commitment of meristems to form flowers and the morphological, cellular, and molecular changes associated with this commitment. What is novel is the emphasis on developmental states as opposed to physiological processes. This developmental focus indicates that there appear to be at least three major developmental states that are acquired and expressed in the process of a meristem initiating floral morphogenesis. The meristem cells must first become competent to respond to a developmental signal that evokes them into a florally determined state. The leaves are the usual source of this signal and a specific leaf may or may not have the capacity to be inductively active. When a leaf does develop the capacity for inductive activity, this capacity is usually correlated with the ontogeny of the leaf. Inductive activity, however, may be continually expressed as in some day-neutral plants or may be latent as in plants where the photoperiod is the external cue for activity. Competent shoot apical meristems respond to inductive leaf signal by being evoked into a florally determined state. Under permissive conditions this florally determined state is expressed as the initiation of floral morphogenesis. Many mechanisms have evolved to regulate entry into and expression of these developmental states. As we learn more about the developmental states associated with flowering and how they are acquired and expressed, we will understand better how the various patterns of flowering are related to one another as well as which developmental processes are common to all angiosperms.