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Rattan (from the Malay rotan) is the name for roughly 600 species of old world climbing palms belonging to subfamily Calamoideae (from the Greek 'kálamos' = reed). Rattan is also known as manila, or malacca, named after the ports of shipment Manila and Malacca City, and as manau (from the Malay rotan manau, the trade name for Calamus manan canes in Southeast Asia). The climbing habit is associated with the characteristics of its woody stem, soft and flexible comparing to true wood derived from a typical secondary growth.
Most rattans differ from other palms in having slender stems, 2–5 cm diameter, with long internodes between the leaves; also, they are not trees but are vine-like lianas, scrambling through and over other vegetation. Rattans are also superficially similar to bamboo. Unlike bamboo, rattan stems ("malacca") are solid, and most species need structural support and cannot stand on their own. Many rattans have spines which act as hooks to aid climbing over other plants, and to deter herbivores. Rattans have been known to grow up to hundreds of metres long. Most (70%) of the world's rattan population exist in Indonesia, distributed among the islands Borneo, Sulawesi, and Sumbawa. The rest of the world's supply comes from the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Bangladesh.
Generally, raw rattan is processed into several products to be used as materials in furniture making. The various species of rattan range from several millimetres up to 5–7 cm in diameter. From a strand of rattan, the skin is usually peeled off, to be used as rattan weaving material. The remaining "core" of the rattan can be used for various purposes in furniture making. Rattan is a very good material mainly because it is lightweight, durable, suitable for outdoor use, and—to a certain extent—flexible.
Rattans are extensively used for making furniture and baskets. When cut into sections, rattan can be used as wood to make furniture. Rattan accepts paints and stains like many other kinds of wood, so it is available in many colours; and it can be worked into many styles. Moreover, the inner core can be separated and worked into wicker.
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