The rattans of Africa are represented by the endemic palm (Arecaceae) genera Laccosperma, Eremospatha and Oncocalamus, as well as by a single species of the otherwise Asian genus Calamus. These climbing palms occur in a wide range of ecological conditions within the lowland tropical forests of the continent and, throughout their range, play a significant role in the forest economy of the region through the utilisation of their stems, or cane. Despite this economic importance, until recently the taxonomy of this group has been unclear. Based on recent fieldwork as well as thorough examination of herbarium records, a taxonomic treatment of all African rattans is presented. This paper recognises 22 species in the four genera, including four recently described species.