Spring colors of steppe

"In mid-spring, tulips (Tulipa shrenkii, T. biebersteiniana) bloom red across the low green hills of the Manych Valley.  In fact, the tulips that are grown in Holland today and popular around the world originated from the Manych Valley.  The first flowers first traveled to Turkey in the 17th century, where they earned the name of the Turkish tulip, then went on to conquer Europe and the world.  Yet, the Shrenk’s tulip is highly endangered in its place of origin.
Tulips flower on a green backdrop of fescue (Festuca valesiaca) and feathergrass (Stipa lessingiana, S. capillata, S. ucrainica, S. pulcherima) steppe communities, which make up the majority of the plant cover in the zapovednik.  Islands are covered with tall grasses and flowers with purple, pink, yellow, white, and red blossoms. Hair-like feathergrass (Agropyron pectinatum), sea lavender (Limonium sareptanum), and sagebrush (Artemisia austriaca) are common in valley steppe habitats, while low shrubs (Kochia prostrata, Artemesia lerchiana, A. pauciflora, A. santonica) are found in drier areas.  Austrian flax (Linum austriacum) is common in areas.  Patches of desert are found in places that were subject to overgrazing or other human impacts.
Two species of feathergrass (Stipa zalesskii, S. ucrainica), Shrenk’s tulip, and meadow saffron (Colchicum laetum) are some of the endangered plants in the reserve listed in the Russian Red Book.  In all, there are 384 species of vascular plants in the zapovednik, representing 54 families. "

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