Identifying the wood from which a cane/walking stick is made can confusing as wood that has been used for either a stick handle or shaft has probably been treated with a stain or varnish application of some sort, disguising the original wood color and perhaps covering up the grain. In addition, wood changes color as it ages, making identification somewhat difficult. There are some woods with an easily identifiable grain, such as tiger maple, snake wood and diamond willow. However literally hundreds of varieties of woods were used in the making of sticks, and where identification is uncertain, consult an expert in the area. Please refer to the bibliography section for the name of a wood identification book that might also be helpful.
I have made the acquaintance of local artisans who specialize in wood and use a variety of woods to make their beautiful wares. When in doubt (which happens frequently), I bring my stick to one of these individuals, and although they can’t always identify the wood, they are often able to at least give me a region of origin. For example, I purchased an all wood folk art style stick made of an unidentified dark wood, with a barely visible grain. I consulted “an expert,” who indicated that the hardwood/tropical wood was probably of Southeast Asian origin. This was consistent with the dragon motif of the handle. He went on to elaborate regarding woods in general, indicating that the darker portion of a piece of wood is called the heartwood, the lighter called the sapwood. Although I still do not know the name of the wood from which this stick is made, I can place its origin to an area which is consistent with the carving on the stick.
Also check out this site that has pictures of exotic wood:
Rattan comes from a vine which distinguishes it from bamboo, which is a giant grass. Rattan vines, or plants, are natives of the South Pacific and are cultivated in Indonesia. Each vine is a solid core plant and is very strong. Bamboo has a hollow core, like a reed. Cane is part of the rattan plant.