Various plant species establish intimate symbioses with bacteria within their aerial organs. The bacteria are contained within nodules or glands often present in distinctive patterns on the leaves, and have been used as taxonomic marker since the early 20th century. These structures are present in very diverse taxa, including dicots (Rubiaceae and Primulaceae) and monocots (Dioscorea). The symbionts colonize the plants throughout their life cycles and contribute bioactive secondary metabolites to the association. In this review, we present recent progress in the understanding of these plant–bacteria symbioses, including the modes of transmission, distribution and roles of the symbionts.