Westoby’s contributions have defined major dimensions of ecological strategy variation across plant species. He has led a transition to global scale for quantitative datasets about key ecological traits, and has developed evolutionary cost-benefit theory about leaf lifespan and seed size. Mapping quantitative traits down the evolutionary history of angiosperms, he has shown the interplay of adaptive radiation with niche conservatism. Westoby’s state-and-transition model has been widely adopted for managing hazards and opportunities in arid zones and rangelands. By elucidating kinship relations among maternal, offspring and triploid endosperm tissues, he has pointed to new interpretations of seed maturation processes and of the evolutionary emergence of flowering plants.