All through the summer, and during spring and autumn as well, our meadows and waste places are thickly dotted with the bright-yellow flowers of the common weed called the dandelion. And even throughout the winter the leaves of this hardy plant remain green. Let us dig up a dandelion, root and all, and examine it; for though it is only a weed, we can learn from it many things about the life of plants.
无论是春天、夏天还是秋天, 草地和荒原上总是铺满了一层明黄色的小花, 这种开着黄花的植物就是蒲公英。就算是到了冬季, 这种顽强植物的叶子依旧绿意盎然。让我们连根拔起一株蒲公英, 仔细观察。虽然它只是一种野草, 但我们还是可以从中了解到植物生活的许多细节。
The root is long, thick, and tapering, and it has many small fibres or rootlets growing from its sides and from the end. The root of a plant, as you already know, fixes the plant in the ground, and its fibres suck in food for the plant out of the soil. But the root of the dandelion does more than this: it stores up in its thick part much food for the use of the plant, to help it in producing its flowers and seeds.
蒲公英的根呈锥形, 又长又粗, 两侧与末端生长出很多细小的纤维或细根。你已经知道, 植物的根能将植物固定在土地中, 而根须则负责从土壤中吸收营养。然而, 蒲公英的根却具备跟多功能：肥厚的根部能够储存食物, 以供自身消耗, 从而生长出花朵与种子。
The dandelion has no long stem or trunk, but from the top of the root a number of green leaves spread out and form a rosette. These leaves have broad points and very jagged edges. The side of each leaf looks a little like the jaw of a lion, and our name dandelion comes from the French name of this plant, which means "lion's tooth. "
蒲公英没有长长的茎干, 不过在根的顶部却生长出一些向外扩散的绿叶, 从而形成莲座丛。这些叶子顶端较宽, 边缘则呈锯齿状。从侧面来看, 每一片叶子都好像狮子的下腭, 蒲公英的名字正是从这种植物的法语名称而来, 意思就是“狮子的牙齿”。
These curious leaves are not flat. Their edges curve upwards, so that each leaf forms an open water-pipe. When rain falls, the leaves carry the refreshing water to the centre of the rosette, and pour it down among the roots. If you look at other plants, you will find many of them with leaves that gather the rain-water in this way and carry it to the roots.
这些形状奇特的叶子并不是扁平形状。它们的边缘向上弯曲, 于是, 每一片叶子实际上就成了一个没有封闭的水管。下雨时, 叶子就会将清新的雨水送到玫瑰结的中间, 然后再注入根里。观察其他植物, 就会发现, 很多植物也都长有此类叶子, 并且通过这种方法把水分送到根部。
In spring, some hollow flower-stalks grow up from the centre of the rosette of leaves. Each stalk bears what looks like one large yellow flower. But if you pull one of these flower-heads to pieces, you will find that it is really made up of a great many small separate flowers, which all grow close together on the cushion-shaped top of the flower-stalk.
春天来临之际, 有些叶子的莲座丛中间会长出空心的花葶。每一根花葶头上都好像顶着一朵巨大的黄花。然而, 如果你将这样一个头状花序分解开来, 就会发现, 它其实由许多独立的小花构成, 它们全部生长在花茎的垫状顶部, 彼此紧密依靠在一起。
Outside the large flower-head is a double row of small green leaves, which protected the tiny flowers within when the "head" was only a bud. These small leaves look somewhat like the green cup or calyx which covers the young buds of single flowers. But they are really quite different.
巨大的头状花序外面长有两排小绿叶, 它们能够在“头状花序”只是蓓蕾时保护深藏其中的幼年小花。这些叶子看起来就像是绿色的杯子或者说是包裹着单生花的花蕾的花萼, 不过它们之间的区别很大。
If we pull off some of the many small yellow flowers or florets that make up the flower-head, and look at them very carefully, we shall see that each has an outside fringe of white hairs. These hairs are really the calyx or outer cup of the tiny flower; and although they do not seem to be of any use to it now, we shall see that they are of much use by-and-by. The little flower itself is a narrow tube, one side of which grows out into a long yellow ribbon.
取下几朵黄色的小花仔细观察, 就会发现, 每一只花朵外面都长有白色细丝状的边缘结构。这些才是真正的花萼；虽然现在它们看起来没什么作用, 不过我们逐渐就会了解到它们的重要功能。小花本身呈狭窄的管状结构, 其中一侧发育成为长长的黄色带状物。
Inside this tube are five very small dust-spikes, all growing together, and forming another and smaller tube. In the centre of the flower is the seed- vessel. At the bottom it is round and white like a little bag. From the top the slender yellow style rises, pushing two rough curving horns out beyond the flower-tube. These horns are ready to catch any pollen dust that insects may bring.
这个管状结构内部则是五个非常细小的雄蕊, 彼此紧靠在一起, 构成另外一个更小的管状结构。花朵中间则是种皮。底部是一个白色的袋装结构。顶部则长有细细的黄色花柱, 两个不平整的卷曲突起伸展而出, 扎根于花冠筒的上方。这两个突起随时准备捕捉昆虫传播过来的花粉。