"Computer models that treat plants as consisting of elementary units have become increasingly popular. The core of such a model is the description of what happens in a single element.... A computer program takes care of all the elements and integrates their activities to the functioning of the whole plant. Both the 3-D architecture and the metabolic processes can be treated in the same model at the same time in a natural way. Increasing speed of computers, developing programming tools and available mathematical techniques have made the construction of such models increasingly feasible." — Risto Sievänen, Annikki Mäkelä, Eero Nikinmaa, organizers of the first FSPM workshop (preface of Silva Fennica, Vol 31, issue 3, 1997).
This short text outlines the spirit of the series of workshops on functional-structural plant modeling, initiated in 1996. The goal is to provide a forum for researchers and students from all over the world, who work on theory and practical applications of integrative plant models, combining plant architecture, molecular genetics, plant physiology, and environmental influences with computer science and mathematics. The general aim is to better understand the complex biological processes that are involved in plant functioning and growth, by designing and making use of advanced computer simulation techniques, and to put these models into practical use.