Natural Wicker has evolved greatly over the many centuries humans have been using it as furniture. It has gone from a necessity for carrying and surviving to an incredibly diverse niche market. And with those changes came an evolution and solidification in the materials used to create what we know and love as our wicker today. There are three main materials used in modern wicker furniture.
Rattan is a species of reed-like plants that are native to Africa, Asia and Australasia. It is one of the most commonly used plants-based materials in wicker furniture today. It is readily available, and harvested quickly so it is a cost effective way to produce high-end wicker. Rattan is also a great product because almost the entire product gets used when making furniture. The skin is the only part that is often disposed of and the many following layers are used in furniture production.
Reed is a type of grass that typically grows in the tropics. It is used for many different reasons from eating/drinking, wicker weaving, thatch roofs and everything in between. Every area of the world has its own use for this incredibly versatile and attractive product. Reeds provide a sturdy workable material to make a variety of wicker furniture.
Willow is a commonly occurring tree or shrub with a sturdy trunk and branch. The rugged branches are often used in wicker because of their strength and ability to hold their shape after a long period of time. Most often you will find Willow wicker baskets due to the more rugged structure of willow branches and parts.