What Is Rattan?

Rattan is a type of palm tree is naturally occurring in a few regions. These regions are Asia, Australasia as well as Africa. It lends its name from the Malay word “rotan” which describes two things in the Malaysian language. The first thing it describes is the rattan itself. The second and more sinister meaning to it is its use as tool of discipline. In the olden days, a rattan stick was the tool of choice in Malaysia when it comes to disciplining children. While attitudes towards the rotan has changed, it is still used in Malaysian prisons.

While it is a member of the palm family of trees, it doesn’t really resemble the basic palm tree as we are used to seeing. Instead, it is a long and slender plant. Technically, rattan is not a tree but rather a type of vine. In the wild, they are frequently seen engulfing other forms of vegetation. This is because the plant lacks the structure to stand on its own. Because of this, these plants feature special hooks on them that allow it to properly grip other forms of vegetation. Most of the worlds supply of rattan comes primarily from South East Asia with Indonesia being the worlds larger exporter. Up to seventy percent of the worlds supply comes from Indonesia.

Ratan's Value To The World

Because the plant is rather fast growing, it is of high value to harvesters. It is also relatively easy to harvest compared to most types of timber logging which increases its appeal a step further. Because it requires trees to grasp as it grows, it does well only in areas where the forest is largely untouched. For that reason, it represents a great alternative to traditional logging. Transportation costs are also reduced since rattan is quite light.

The Basic Uses Of Ratan

There are two general areas that rattan is extensively used in, storage baskets (and boxes) as well as furniture. There are various species available that differ in thickness. Thicker variants are usually used for applications that require a stronger material. Overall however, rattan is seen as a relatively strong, lightweight and flexible material which explains its heavy use in the manufacturing of furniture and baskets. Just like most types of would, it can be colored an stained to your liking. It also has a reasonably high resistance to splintering which allows it to be used in a variety of high-impact applications such as martial arts weapons.

While both rattan and bamboo are found in the same areas, they have some basic differences between their structures. Bamboo is hollow while rattan is not. However, they are both used in similar industries which include mallet production. Another use for the plant stems from its fruit which can be used as a traditional dye. It is also claimed to have some medicinal properties as well. More impressively, scientist have recently discovered that specially treated rattan can be used as a bone replacement.

Author's Bio: 

Gregory Field is the author on many related topics such as storage baskets, ratan baskets as well as wicker storage baskets.