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Steppes: The Plants and Ecology of the World’s Semi-arid Regions

By Michael Bone, Dan Johnson, Panayoti Kelaidis, Mike Kintgen, and Larry G. Vickerman

Steppes—semi-arid biomes dominated by forbs, grasses, and grass-like species, and characterized by extremes of cold and heat—occupy enormous areas on four continents. Yet these ecosystems are among the least studied on our planet. Given that the birth and evolution of human beings have been so intimately interwoven with steppe regions, it is amazing that so few attempts have been made to compare and quantify the features of these regions.

In this ground-breaking volume, five leading voices in horticulture—all staff members of Denver Botanic Gardens—examine the plants, climate, geology, and geography of the world’s steppes: central Asia, central and intermountain North America, Patagonia, and South Africa. Drawing upon their first-hand experience, the writers illuminate the distinctive features of each region, with a particular emphasis on the striking similarities between their floras. Each chapter includes a primer of species of horticultural interest—a rich resource for readers with an interest in steppe plants.

About the authors

Michael Bone

Michael Bone works in plant propagation and production and is the curator of the steppe collection at the Denver Botanic Gardens, where he has focused his work on seed collection and the study of steppe plants and ecology.

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Dan Johnson

Dan Johnson travels throughout the West and Southwest in search of unusual and underused native plants for trial in Colorado’s semi-arid steppe climate. He has created and maintains some of Denver Botanic Gardens’ most beautiful and self-sustaining native and xeric gardens.

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Panayoti Kelaidis

Panayoti Kelaidis represents Denver Botanic Gardens in educational, professional, and promotional endeavors as an expert in horticulture, science, and art. A past president of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society (NARGS) and the American Penstemon Society, he is the recipient of the Award of Excellence from National Garden Clubs and the 2000 Arthur Hoyt Scott Medal from Swarthmore College.

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Mike Kintgen

Mike Kintgen oversees the Alpine Collection and nine gardens at DBG including the Rock Alpine Garden and South African Plaza. He has been a member of NARGS since 1993 and is past president of its Rocky Mountain Chapter. He lectures internationally on Denver Botanic Gardens and its focus on semi-arid steppe and high-elevation floras of the world.

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Larry G. Vickerman

Larry Vickerman obtained a B.S. from Colorado State University in landscape management. He currently directs Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield, a 700-acre farm and public garden in Littleton, Colorado. He has worked in public horticulture and landscape restoration since the late 1980s.

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