The most distinctive feature of the Somerville flora at that time was that of the salt marshes along the Mystic river
and the mill-pond on the north and east boundaries of the town.
Most of the plants growing there were of more interest to the botanist than to the lover of wild flowers, the seashore golden-rod, perhaps the most brilliant of the golden-rods, and the marsh rosemary or sea-lavender being the only ones whose blossoms would attract attention from the ordinary passer-by.
But the glaux, the atriplex, and the salicornias, mere weeds as they would be called, possessed an equal charm for one whose eye and mind were trained to appreciate every detail of the insignificant flower or the curiously-constructed seed.
Perhaps the greatest number of species was found in Polly's Swamp, many water-loving plants growing there.
But the Ten Hills Farm
district was the favorite haunt of the spring flowers, columbine and bloodroot, violets and early saxifrage growing without stint, while the shad bush and the wild cherry blossoms were greatly prized.
In the little strip of Palfry's Swamp that was left within the Somerville limits were a number of choice plants not found elsewhere.
Among them may be mentioned the swamp azalea, the wild sensitive plant, the meadow beauty, and the dodder, and the High School scholars of to-day would be obliged to tramp many a long mile before they could find four such interesting flowers in our locality.
Gilman's field, as the large vacant lot on Walnut street, north of the Lowell railroad, was called, was another favorite tramping ground, its rocky ledges and boggy hollows revealing very diverse varieties of plants.
There were the wild currant and gooseberry, the elder, button bush, the sweet pepper bush, and wild roses without stint, while equally interesting were the wild oats, the ground-nut, and the orchid that grew most abundantly in Somerville
the spiranthes ce<*>nua.
But <*> letter day in our botanical calendar was when the fringed gentian was found here, where New Pearl street now crosses Walnut
, and it seemed an act of graceful condescension for a flower sung by Bryant
, and Emerson
to grace the wayside of our prosaic town.