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This document contains two sections. The first section is a glossary of rattan terms mostly from Southeast Asia (especially Malaysia). It is more than simply a compilation of over 500 terms and definitions relative to rattans and their utility; also included are some 425 vernacular names, and a listing of miscellaneous terms that may be encountered in the rattan literature. Seven appendixes provide information on the systematics and geographic distribution of rattans, data on reported utilization of rattans for canes and other purposes, an example of standard specifications for rattan furniture and a chronological record of technical rattan meetings since 1979, when the modern era of rattan development can be said to have begun. The bibliography includes most of the major modern publications on rattans. The second section is a compendium glossary on rattan terms with special emphasis on Africa that was compiled separately, but following the same structure as the first glossary. Although this has created some overlap with respect to terms, vernacular and botanical names, readers may find it useful also to have an overview of rattan terms by region.


Traditionally, the New World palm genus Desmoncus is excluded from consideration in rattan-related documents because it is not a true rattan. However, there is strong justification for its inclusion in this glossary. All species of Desmoncus, with one exception, are characterized by having climbing stems, and these stems have end-uses comparable to the Old World rattans, although on a much smaller scale and generally only at the local level.

The glossary terms and definitions are organized under six major headings and twelve subheadings. Determination of which subheading to use for certain terms presented some difficulty. In such cases, the subheading with which the term is most closely associated has been used. Users are advised to consult other subheadings if the term they seek is not where they had expected to find it.

The vernacular names included are primarily from Southeast Asia, which is a reflection of the greater commercial importance of rattans in that region. To provide full coverage, a comparatively small number of common names from East Asia, South Asia, Africa and Latin America are listed.

Precautions should be taken in using vernacular names to attempt to identify rattan genera and species. Many names, especially those derived from the trade, are employed to refer to multiple species of rattan having similar physical characteristics. In certain instances, vernacular names are erroneously applied. Despite the uncertainty often associated with many of the vernacular names, they are essential to know because they are the designations used by local people in exploiting, managing and developing rattan resources.

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