Sea-Wrack, or Fucus, L. a genus of vegetables, comprehending 14.5 species, 85 of which grow on the British coasts : of these we shall state the following as the principal :
I. The serratus, or SerRated Sea-Wrack, is perennial, growing to the height of about two feet, and varying from a green to a yellowish or olive colour. - It is employed by the Dutch for covering or packing lobsters and crabs, that are to be conveyed to a considerable distance because it keeps them alive much longer than any other species of this plant ; nor does it easily ferment, or become putrid.
2. The Vesiculosus, Common Sea-wrack, or Sea-waure, is perennial, and grows to the height of one foot; producing its fructified parts in the months of July and August. - It is an excellent manure ; for, being strongly impregnated with saline particles, these are gradually imparted to the ground on which the plant is spread, and thus fertilize it in a remarkable degree. Indeed, if land be properly dressed with this maritime vegetable, it is asserted, that its efficacy will continue unexhausted, for seven or eight years ; an advantage which dung does not possess, as it requires to be renewed every second or third year.
Beside its utility as a manure, the Sea-waure serves in Jura, Skye, and other Hebride islands, as a winter food for cattle, which regu-larly frequent the shores for it, after the tide has ebbed. The inhabitants of these isles, also, dry their cheese without using any salt, by covering it with the ashes of this plant; which abound with saline particles to such a degree, that they produce one half of their weight in fixed alkaline salts.
Farther, we are informed by LiNNAEus, that the inhabitants of Gothland boil the Common Sea-wrack together with a little coarse meal, by which they prepare a kind of wash for their hogs; and that the poorer classes, in Scania, not only thatch their cottages with it, but also employ it as fuel. The most profitable use of this plant, however, is that of making kelp, or pot-ash, which affords employment to many industrious families. So lucrative and highly esteemed is this plant, that the natives of the Western Isles have even rolled large masses of stone and rock into the sea; with a view to promote and extend its growth.
With respect to its medicinal properties, also, the Sea-waure deserves particular notice. - Dr. RUS-ski. (in his work quoted in the last article) recommends the sapona-ccodis is liquor found in the vesicles or bladders, that abound beneath the leaves of this plant, as a powerful resolvent in dispersing scrophu-lous and scorbutic tumors of the glands. He directs the patient to rub such swellings with these bladders, having previously bruised them in his hand, till the part be thoroughly penetrated with the mucus; after which they are to be washed with sea-water. Another method of employing the common Sea-wrack, is by infusing 2 lbs. of the vesicles above mentioned(which ought to be gathered in July, when they abound with viscid juice) in a glass vessel containing one quart of sea-water, for the space of fifteen days ; at the expiration of which, the liquor will acquire the consistence of honey. It is next to be strained through a linen cloth ; the tumors must be daily rubbed, and then cleansed in the manner already directed. By this treatment, he observes, not only scorbutic and scrophulous indurations, but even scirrhous swellings in the breasts of females, have been successfully discussed. Lastly, by calcining this vegetable in the open air, Dr. Russel obtained a very black saline powder, by him called vegetable aethiops: and which ha?
3. The palmatus (Ulva palmata of Dr. Withering), Palmated Sea-wr a ck, Dills, Dulls, Dul-lesh, or Dulse, abounds on the coasts of Scotland, on those of the contiguous islands, and on the shores of Northumberland. Its substance is membranous, pellucid, and thin ; of a greenish or reddish colour: its height varies from five to six, and sometimes to twelve inches. - This species, after being soaked in fresh water, is eaten either boiled or dried ; in which latter state, it acquires a flavour, somewhat resembling that of violets; and, according to Bechstein, the sweetness of sugar : - yet, unless it be dried in close vessels, no saccharine but saline particles will appear on its surface; because the former are dissipated in the open air ;a remark for which we are indebted to OlaFfen, the Icelandic traveller. - The dulse is sold in a dry state, in the streets of Dublin ; and Dr. Rutty observes, that it is supposed to sweeten the breath, and to destroy worms. - In the Isle of Skye, this plant is occasionally boiled in water, with a little butter, and administered in fevers, with a view to promote perspiration ; though, in this form, it is often attended with purgative effects.
4. The ciliatus (laciniatus of Dr. WlTHERING), or Fringed Sea-wrack, abounds on rocks and stones, on the British coast ; where it grows from four to five inches high; consists of a membranous, pellucid substance; and is of a red colour. It is eaten both in Britain and Ireland, like the preceding species.
5. The pinnnatifidust Indented, or Jagged Sea-wrack, or Pep-per-dilsk, is also met with abundantly on the rocks of Britain, which are covered by the tides. It attains two or three inches in height; and is of a yellowish-olive colour, frequently tinged with a reddish hue. - It is likewise eaten both in Scotland and Ireland.
6, The esculentus, Esculent Sea-wrack, Bladder-locks, or Tangle, is common on the rocks contiguous to the shores of Cumberland and Scotland; where it grows from live to ten yards in length, and one foot wide, being of an olive or green colour. - This species furnishes a grateful food for cattle ; and its stalk, when boiled, affords a culinary dish in Scotland, as well as in some parts of England: the proper season for gathering this vegetable is the month of September, in which it is found in the greatest perfection. - The Esculent Sea-wrack has, farther, been recommended for restoring the natural appetite in the disorder, termed pica, or longing.
7- The saccharinus, Sweet Sea-wrack, or Sea-belt, abounds on the sea-shores. Its stem is from 2 to 12 inches in height, of an oval form, a leathery consistence, and of a tawney-green colour. If it be washed in the spring, and suspended to dry, a sweet saccharine matter will exude from its extremities; though not in such quantity as from the Palmated Sea-wrack. - The sea-belt is eaten, both when taken fresh out of the sea, and also boiled as a pot-herb.