Bamboo, Rattan, Cane, and Wicker

Bamboo, Rattan, Cane, and Wicker

What are the differences between Bamboo, Rattan, Cane, and Wicker?

I was out shopping for patio furniture and ran across a cool outdoor set that would look great in my back yard. At first glance I thought it was bamboo. On closer inspection the label read “Rattan”. To complicate matters further I saw the words “wicker” and “cane”. I always assumed that bamboo, rattan, cane, and wicker were all words for the same thing. When I got home I looked it up – I was wrong.



First, let’s get the word “wicker” out of the way. Wicker is the name of “the process” used to weave natural or synthetic materials into furniture. Natural materials include: reed, sea grass, rattan, cane, willow, and bamboo. Synthetic materials include resin and vinyl that look completely natural and handle the outdoor elements very well.

That’s it. It’s not a species of grass or wood it’s the name of “the process” of weaving materials into furniture, as well as the name of that particular style of furniture – “wicker furniture”.


brown rattan wicker chair


Next, Bamboo and Rattan

Although they can appear very similar bamboo and rattan are quite different. Here are just a few differences:

  • Bamboo is from the grass family… Rattan is a type of palm tree from South East Asia.
  • Some species of bamboo will grow to be HUGE such as bamboo timber… Rattan although extremely strong doesn’t get very big.
  • Bamboo is hollow… Rattan has a solid core.


Bamboo is a hollow, giant grass. Some of the largest timber bamboo has been reported to grow over 98 feet (30m) tall with a diameter of 9-12 inches (25-30cm). Even though it’s classified as a grass, the timber is said to be harder than mahogany.





Larger applications of bamboo timber are houses, flooring, walls, and furniture to name a few.

Smaller diameter bamboo poles are used for a variety of things: plant stakes, fountains and other decorative items.



Rattan is a relative of the palm tree from South East Asia. Rattan vines are durable, flexible and have a solid core. Rattan grows like a tree but will bend back down to the earth and then travel underground instead like a vine. It’s one of the strongest woods in the world and has been used to build foot bridges in many countries. It is excellent for making smaller items like wicker furniture.



When making rattan furniture, the straight poles are usually bent to a desired shape by using steam and then hung to dry. Once dry, they will retain that shape always. Shaped poles and spindly vines are often the materials used in the process of weaving wicker furniture.


It has a fast rate of growth and is an easily renewable resource.


Lastly, Cane

Cane is simply the outer bark or skin of the rattan vine. Because it is strong, it is commonly used for binding and therefore you will see many items using cane to tie the individual pieces together. Cane is also used as a beautiful finishing material as seen in the flat-wrapping of the peacock chair below.



Cane is less porous than other materials and will repel spills more readily – just wipe it down.


To Summarize:

Wicker is a process using natural or synthetic materials to weave chairs, tables etc. and is also the name of that style of furniture – wicker furniture.

Bamboo is a grass and is hollow. The giant timber can grow to over 98 feet tall. It is harder than mahogany.

Rattan is a vine and has a solid center. It is one of the hardest woods in the world. It can be bent and woven. It never grows as thick as bamboo or as tall.

Cane is the outer bark of the rattan plant and used for tying pieces together and for wrappings such as finishing touches.

Finally, cane, rattan, and bamboo furniture are environmentally friendly and easily renewable resources. Purchasing or making your own bamboo or rattan wicker furniture reduces your carbon footprint.

And there you have it – bamboo, rattan, cane, and wicker – mystery solved.




Patio Set: Adobe Stock

Wicker Chair : Adobe Stock

Bamboo Timber: Flicker

Rattan Plant: Pinterest

Peacock Chair: Pinterest

Cane Wrapping: Pinterest

Bamboo Bedroom Furniture: Pinterest

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Bamboo The Lucky Plant

Bamboo The Lucky Plant

What makes bamboo lucky?

The notion of bamboo bringing good luck into the home dates back to over 3000 years ago (some sources say 6000+ years) in China and to the ancient Chinese art of Feng Shui. Feng Shui is a very cool subject that’s worth a lifetime of study but I am only including the 3 paragraph basics so you can get an idea of why bamboo is considered lucky.

Feng Shui is a philosophical system that balances and harmonizes the surrounding environment through the use of Qi (pronounced “chee”). Qi is the invisible force that flows through everything. Qi is pure energy. It is the life force that binds the universe, earth, and humanity together. It flows everywhere connecting everything.

By learning to guide the powerful energy of Qi, you can promote good health and prosperity. It is said that through the practice of Feng Shui, you can direct its flow through your home (or any space for that matter) by the correct placement of objects and plants – bamboo being one of them.

Some believe that the hollow structure of the stalks of bamboo encourages the flow of positive Qi energy and generates abundance, prosperity and good health. The number of stalks you have in your plant will determine the type of energy that is brought into your home.

Another way to symbolically interpret bamboo is to observe the plant itself. Bamboo is a hearty, fast growing giant grass that can survive in very poor growing conditions and therefore it brings with it the hope of continued prosperity under the most difficult of environments.

To bring luck or more Qi into your home, there are different factors to consider depending on the variety of luck you wish to attract.


First, for best results you need to have all five of the elements represented:


Wood – Is represented by the stalk of bamboo itself. Wood is symbolic of growth and creativity. It increases the intuition and encourages the growth of the individual. Wood is a physical representation of the essence of life in motion.

Earth – is represented by the rocks or pebble inside the container. Earth is the most calming and stable of the elements. Earth represents, security, stability and protection. It grounds and stabilizes.

Metal – can be represented by tying a coin to one of the stalks or placing it on the bottom of the container. Metal represents the intellect and mental sharpness.

Fire – The color red represents fire. Red paint on the container, or by using other adornments like red ribbons will bring fire to the equation. Fire is representative of transformation and expansion.

Water – the water in the container. Water is symbolic of renewed clarity, letting go, relaxation and inspiration and renewal.


Second, the number of stalks is key to the type of luck you will receive.




There are three kinds of luck that each stalk brings to you:





Long Life


The grouping of stalks together enhances the positive energy generating capacity of the bamboo. The differing number of stalks in a bamboo plant will represent different things.


One Stalk: Also known as the “Lucky Log”. This is the number that all the other numbers sprouts from. It signifies growth and is a very popular gift between business people. It is also a great gift for someone who is starting his or her life over. By placing one end of a single log in water represents the potential for new opportunities and prosperity. The new leaves that sprout from it are symbolic of the new opportunities that are present and the potential for a meaningful life.

Two Stalks: Sending a gift of two stalks of bamboo is considered an expression of love. It’s a great way to wish a new couple much luck. Two stalks are said to double your luck.

Three Stalks: When a bamboo plant has three stalks, it is one of the best combinations to have in your home.

Four Stalks: Bamboo plants with 4 stalks are almost never given as a gift. In Cantonese, the word for ‘4’ sounds likes death. According to Chinese culture, the number four could potentially draw negative energy. Giving someone a four-stalk bamboo is considered quite offensive. Interestingly, the Chinese leave out any sequence starting with the number four whenever possible such as in buildings: the fourth floor, fourteenth floor and all floors in the forties. There are some high-rise buildings that say they have with 50 floors but are really only 35 floors high.

Five Stalks: The number five represents a balance between the five elements of fire, water, earth, wood, and metal. It will enrich the 5 major areas of your life: the spiritual, the intuition, the emotional, the mental, and the physical. Health is often a benefit of the balance of five. This is really a great one to have in your home for healthy body, mind, career, finance and spirit.

Six Stalks: Six stalks bring blessings and happiness. It is believed to attract opportunities to attain prosperity and wealth. It is also a number relating to success in business.

Seven Stalks: The number seven is lucky for health, and for relationships or any group that has a common goal. Seven indicates togetherness and adds to the potential of success.

Eight Stalks: Chinese businesses like to include eight into their business as much as possible to bring luck in wealth. The number 88 is known as ‘double joy’. It is also lucky for hopeful parents, as it is believed to improve fertility.

Nine Stalks: Nine is associated with long-lasting relationships and used widely at weddings. Its sound is similar to the words for harmony and unity bringing good fortune and overall good luck.

Ten Stalks: Completion, Perfection and Satisfaction are what will come into your home or to the home that receives a gift of bamboo with 10 stalks.

Twenty-One Stalks: This is one of the most powerful of all bamboo plants. If you receive a bamboo with twenty-one stalks, it signifies that good fortune and health is yours for the asking and it will come to you in the most profound way. You are being wished incredible health, wealth and abundance.


Third, placement of the bamboo plant in your space is very important.


According to Feng Shui, there are two areas that are conducive to creating great luck:

The East: Placing a lucky bamboo plant in the east helps to attract health for family members.

Southeast: The southeast is the zone of money and wealth. If you place a bamboo plant here it will help to attract more money into your environment.


To learn more about using Feng Shui at home, at work, or anywhere really, click on the links below to see a couple of my favorite books on the subject:


Feng Shui for Healing: A Step-by-Step Guide to Improving Wellness in Your Home Sanctuary. Written by: Rodika Tchi

Feng Shui for Dummies. Written by: David Daniel Kennedy with Forward by: Grandmaster Lin Yun

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