I wish I had saved that old Far Side cartoon showing the chubby guy on an endless plane in front of a sort of naked stoop with a couple steps, the cartoon labeled "the Steps of Central Asia"--this being more or less what most people think of hearing that phrase. I did mean plane in that first sentence btw.
After two really stunning trips last June and July and this August-September (thank you once again Plant Select!) my associations with Central Asia (entirely Kazkhstan and a the westernmost corner of Mongolia) are rich indeed. I deeply regret that I put off coming here so late in my life. I guess Africa and the American West (and Mexico, the Andes, Spain, Turkey etc. etc.) are a sort of compensation...but for those living in Colorado, the steppes of Central Asia are our true correlative. The landscape is so similar and the plants so perfectly suited to us that I marvel that so much of what I saw was novel and new to me (and I suspect to horticulture generally)
A case in point is the plant pictured above: Dipsacus azureus. I realize teasel might well terrify the soul of the timid, but something tells me this one is no fullonum. It appears to be perennial, and was scattered on just certain meadows in a way that suggested a reasonable perennial rather than horrendous weed to me. Only time (and a lot of cautious testing) will tell for sure: but I know no garden perennial quite like this: six or seven feet tall, with such a clear azure head of bloom, almost always sporting butterflies.