Perianth structure and behavior were studied comparatively in representatives of all families of the basalmost extant angiosperms (ANITA grade plus Chloranthaceae). In addition, data from the literature were reviewed. Tepal aestivation is spiral imbricate in Amborella and Austrobaileyales, with broadly overlapping flanks; aestivation is mainly contort within each of the two tepal whorls in Cabomba (but open within each whorl and imbricate only between whorls in Brasenia) and is whorled imbricate in Nymphaeaceae. Tepals are absent in Hydatellaceae, Chloranthaceae (other than Hedyosmum), and Ceratophyllaceae. In two genera of Nymphaeales (Cabomba and Nuphar), nectaries are present on inner tepals. Tepals are caducous during or at the end of anthesis in Austrobaileyales. Preformations of the tepal abscission zone in flowers with caducous tepals include a narrow tepal base, constriction as seen in median longitudinal sections, and small‐celled tissue. In contrast, the perianth organs of Amborella, Nymphaeales, and Chloranthaceae are not caducous and are associated with a broad tepal base without indentation and often without small‐celled tissue. Only in the latter groups are there genera with basally united tepals (Amborella, Cabomba, and Hedyosmum).