The New International Encyclopædia/Rattan

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RATTAN, RATAN, or ROTTANG (Fr. rotin, rotang, from Malay rotan, rattan). Calamus. A genus of about 200 species of mostly East Indian palms with reed-like, slender, often jointed stems sometimes several hundred feet long. A few species are found in Africa and Australia. The name rattan is extended to other similar palms of the same tribe although placed by botanists in different genera. The stem, which is very smooth, hard, and siliceous externally, is either erect, or ascends by means of hooked prickles at the extremities of the midribs of its leaves. It then descends in graceful festoons and may climb neighboring trees. All the species are useful, being much employed in their native countries for making bridges, plaited work, chair bottoms, rope, and so on, and are very largely exported, generally under the name of cane, for similar purposes. Calamus Rotang and Calamus rudentium, occurring in India, Burma, and Ceylon, are among the most useful species. The walking sticks called Malacca canes are believed to be the produce of Calamus Scipionum; the plant, however, does not grow in Malacca, but in Sumatra. The fruit of some species of rattan is used as food, and the young shoots, variously prepared, are used as vegetables. A very fine kind of dragon's blood (q.v.) is obtained from a species of rattan (Calamus Draco or Dæmonorops Draco), and particularly from the fruit, on the surface of which it appears as a resinous exudation. Calamus acanthospathus is one of the hardiest species, occurring as it does at elevations of 6000 feet in the Himalayas.