The past 50 years in plant systematics have seen an unbelievable increase in types of data collected, methods of data analysis, and different philosophical perspectives. These years have taken us essentially from the age of the "New Systematics" in the mid 1940s to what we now might call "Comprehensive Systematics" that utilizes many different kinds of data and requires sophisticated computer programs for finding meaningful relationships among plant taxa. We have transitioned through phenetics and into cladistics, and have moved from emphasis on cytological and cytogenetic data into secondary products followed by isozymes and recently into DNA. We have also learned how to track these data and relationships better, and hence informatics has come of age. We have changed from being mostly single investigators working isolated on our own favorite groups to collaborating with people from diverse laboratories. The role of the single expert in taxonomic groups is diminishing. Through all these changes, we begin to worry about the proper role of nomenclature and whether our rules for naming are keeping pace with present demands for flexibility, efficiency and information content. The challenge for us in this symposium is to attempt to look at what is happening today and then to go beyond these frontiers into the next 50 years. In view of the spectacular changes that this past half-century has witnessed, what directions are likely to develop into the future? What should our priorities be? Are there underdeveloped opportunities that we profitably should be exploring now? What dangers and pitfalls lie ahead? It also must be remembered that plant diversity is steadily declining world-wide. In short, in view of these challenges, where are we and where are we going in plant systematics?

Key words: 50-year history, ASPT, IAPT, new developments, plant systematics, plant taxonomy