Welsh, Hesgen. - German, Riethgras. - Italian, Carice. - Spanish, Lirio Espadanal. - lllyric, Rogosc.
The sea-seg (Carex arenaria), though not quite boasting such extraordinary power as the arundo arenaria, or sea-reed, is not much inferior to it in binding together the loose and restless sands; and, like it, only occurs on the driest and least adhesive dunes. It is far less common on our coasts than is desirable, and might with great advantage be more cultivated on our sand-drifts, where it would form a satisfactory bulwark against their encroachments on valuable lands, at the same time that it would gradually prepare for the growth of a better kind of vegetation; for its root-fibres penetrate into the most shifting sand-hills, while the tenacious root-stalk, or rhizoma, binds down its surface as securely as the thatcher binds down the straw upon the rick top. The roots are also used in medicine, being both sudorific and diuretic; and two celebrated physicians, Gleditsch and Sumacher, following the practice of their rustic brethren, found it most useful as an alterative in cutaneous diseases.
Sea-Seg. - Carex arenaria.
The sea-seg is, perhaps, the only one of our thirty British species which has very well-ascertained uses; though the whole of the tribe are most eagerly sought out and eaten by cattle; while the pretty little pendulous-seg (C sylvatica), so common in our shady woods, is manufactured by the Laplanders into a coarse but serviceable clothing, - a purpose for which the whole tribe is admirably adapted.
The term "acuta" applied to the carex by Virgil, has been supposed to present a difficulty, and even to argue that his carex was rather some kind of rush, or juncus, than a sedge; but the form of the leaves confirms, rather than opposes, its claim to that epithet, and the objection seems to be unnecessary.
The Welsh name hesgen, perhaps, shews the use of h for s, as in hafern for Severn. In this the Welsh and Irish are like Greek and Latin; thus, the Welsh halen (salt), is the Irish salen; hals (Gr.), is the Latin sal; helike (Gr.), is salix (Welsh, helyg); and helios (Gr.), is sol (Welsh, haul).