Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bottle Tree

Have you ever heard of a bottle tree? I had never heard of one until I went to visit my friend in Tennessee last summer. She had one by her back door and it had beautiful colored bottles on it. She couldn't really remember, but it had some type of legend behind it. So I started thinking...I want one of these!
I have combined information from several different sources, but this is what I have read. There are actually trees in Australia and Africa called bottle trees.
The slaves brought the idea of the traditional bottle trees, live trees with colored bottles on the ends of branches, into this country. It has been told that bottle trees protected homes from evil spirits by trapping spirits inside the bottle, where they could do no harm.
Some say that bottles were hung from trees by strings, in hopes that any devilish spirits lurking near the house would be attracted to the colorful bottles shining in the dusk. The spirits would become mesmerized by pretty colored bottles and become trapped inside the bottles. The bottles were periodically corked and thrown into the river to wash away the unwanted spirits. Another swing to the story is that the spirits become trapped in the bottles, and are then destroyed when the sun comes up.
Sometimes the bottles, then made of hand-blown glass, were hung by strings. But mostly they were put on the tips of a tree. Although bottles of many colors were used, blue was thought to be an especially potent spirit repellant. It is still common to see homes in the south with their doors and window frames painted blue. It was thought that the color blue has the power to repel or overcome evil.
We ordered some bottle trees for the shop. Needless to say, I brought one home today. I already have a cobalt blue bottle to put on it first. Please feel free to let me know if you have any other information about bottle trees!


  1. Michelle, I grew up seeing these in the Deep South. Often, they would strip the tree of leaves, and then place the bottles on the bare ends.

    I have read that the Moors also had windows in their homes/buildings that had stained glass for this reason and that the windows weren't often symmetrical so as to confuse and deter spirits, keeping them outside.

    In St. Augustine, there is a building that is built in the Moorish style, and they followed these precepts. I think it's called Castle Zoryada (???).

    Now, a lot of folk art collectors have them in their yards. And blue was the color of choice, though other colors were used. I have even seen white Clorox jugs used. You don't see them as much anymore, but every now and then you do.

    Hope this helps...


  2. I put this post on my blog last year about my bottle tree - I think they're fun! http://pammiejoandfriends.blogspot.com/2008/09/bottle-tree-lore.html PAM

  3. I collected some beautiful blue bottles that had of all things...ice tea.. in them from the grocery store! I love to put them on a sturdy branch with lots of side branches in my garden in the summer and see the sun shine through them. My own bottle tree!

  4. Hi, I have collected bottles for a bottle tree, but can not find the "tree". Where did you find them to buy, or do you sell them? I NEED One! Thanks, Marion