What Is Rattan?

Rattan comes in two basic forms, natural and man made. In this article we will discus the natural Rattan only.

Rattan is the term used for around 600 different species of palms which are native to the regions of Africa, Australasia and Asia. The feature that distinguishes rattan from other kinds of wood is its slender stems which are around 2-5 cm in diameter. As opposed to other furniture making materials, rattan is in fact not a tree at all but is vine like and can be found growing through and across various vegetation sites.

Superficially speaking, rattan is strikingly similar to bamboo, the difference being that unlike bamboo shoots which are hollow from the inside, rattan stems or Malacca are solid and require additional structural support in order to stand.

Photo of the Rattan Plant

Natural Rattan In The Forrest
Curtesy of © WWF Laos

Almost 70% of the Rattan plant population is known to grow in Indonesia, the plant also grows in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

Most Rattan is grown in whats known as secondary forests. This is where most of the trees and plant are young and the light levels on the forest floor are much higher. Growing from the forest floor Rattan is a climber or creeper plant useing other trees to climb up and hold onto. Rattan can grow up to be hundreds of meters long, with long internodes between the leaves- some rattan also have spines which serve a twofold purpose; they help the plant climb over other plants present in the vegetation and also dissuade herbivorous animals from eating the plant.

Benefits of Harvesting Rattan
As opposed to other kinds of wood, harvesting rattan is actually economically and environmentally beneficial. The economic benefit is derived from the fact that when loggers choose to harvest rattan they leave other trees in the vicinity, also choosing to gather rattan instead of other types of wood is much easier and requires much simpler tools and transportation means as it is much lighter than the alternatives.

Once the Rattan has been harvested it then requires processing into a form suitable for making furniture and weaving. This process involves washing the Rattan to remove the Silica which coats the core and to remove any staining which may be present. After the wasing the Rattan is dried and cured, this process involves turning the pale green color of the raw rattan to the yellow that one mostly sees in furniture today. Raw rattan can be processed into numerous products that can all be used in the rattan furniture making process; rattan skin can be peeled off and used as a weaving material for the furniture items, the core of the material can be used to make the base of the furniture.
Rattan can be painted and stained like many other types of wood, so it actually can be bought in different colors.

As with other types of furniture, buying rattan furniture for your home both has its pros and cons- some of which are discussed below. Lloyds Garden Furniture offers premium high quality rattan furniture

Considered among the advantages of rattan furniture is the fact that it is very versatile i.e. you can mold into having various looks depending upon your taste. Rattan furniture is a great outdoor option as it’s quite light weight and you can easily move it inside if there is sign of bad weather.
Another pro of rattan furniture is its cost, it is one of the most economical furniture type available in the market. Have a look at http://lloydsgardenfurniture.co.uk/rattan to see some examples of quality rattan furniture.

One of the biggest cons of keeping rattan furniture outside is that it really can’t be left outdoors for longer periods of time as humidity and even a lot of sun can easily damage it. However, if rattan furniture is taken care of properly you can easily enjoy it for a lot of years. For more information on Rattan please read Rattan Facts