Like much of the rest of taxonomy, both floristics and monography, two of its principal outputs, are being subjected, albeit slowly, to the dramatic changes in concepts and methodology that are affecting other parts of these fields. After a number of false starts, electronic web-based preparation and publication of floristic and taxonomic projects, in the form of continually updated information systems and databases, are beginning to replace conventional time- and information-limited Floras and, to a lesser extent, monographs. Coincidental with these developments, the value of floristics is being questioned by some biologists on the grounds of its lack of scientific objectivity and its weakening of systematics as a scientific endeavour, while at the same time its fundamental importance, under the guise of completing the inventory of biodiversity, is being emphasized by other biologists and by the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Global Taxonomic Initiative. Other important developments that will affect the way in which floristics and monography are pursued, is the questioning of the continuing relevance of the Linnaean hierarchical structure of biological classification and proposals to replace it with a phylogenetic structure, and proposals to adopt phylogenetic species concepts. Both of these, however scientifically justified, would drastically affect the accessibility of the units of taxonomy to a large number of non-specialist users. In contrast to this, we are beginning to see in taxonomy policy-making, an increasing sensitivity to societal and ethical concerns that characterize ‘post-normal science’, including the recognition of the need to command strong public identification such as response to user needs and concerns, and an acceptance that floristic and taxonomic work cannot be pursued as open-ended, long-term enterprises, because of the time limit imposed by human activities in destroying the very resource base of biodiversity that it is aimed at studying.

Key words: inventory, post-normal science, systematics, taxonomy