Calamus longipinna from New Guinea belongs to the group of climbing palms known as rattans. Their long, slender, flexible stems clamber through rain forest canopy by means of viciously barbed whips on the leafsheaths or the ends of their leaves.
Rattans are second only to timber in value as a product of the Indo-Malaysian rainforest. They are used to make cane furniture; the intact stems of some of the larger species provide the framework, with split cane woven around it. Locally rattans are made into a huge variety of useful objects, ranging from baskets and sleeping mats to fish traps.
Commercially important species of rattan are usually harvested directly from the wild and many are already endangered. Rattan has great potential as a new crop and botanists and foresters are developing cultivation methods. This would not only remove the threat to wild populations but also help maintain the forest cover since rattans have to be grown under a tree canopy.
You can see rattans in the Palm House
Search Kew's electronic Plant Information Centre for scientific information about Calamus species