Bottle Trees: More than just a Lowcountry decoration

Dated: 09/16/2019

Views: 497

Bottle Trees: More than just a Lowcountry decoration

One of the many peculiarly interesting things you'll see decorating many homes here in Beaufort SC is the bottle tree.

Bottle trees were brought here in the 18th and 19th centuries by enslaved Africans and became a part of our local culture as the Gullah of our local sea islands has always held the belief in evil spirits walking among us.

There's much more to the bottle tree than just a bunch of blue bottles arranged in a strange formation on the tips of tree branches; and they are much more than just a garden decoration.

Legend says, when nightfall comes, the bottles trapped evil spirits in them and held them inside until the morning sun could destroy them. The use of blue bottles is said to attract spirits, and once they’re inside, they cannot leave. When the night wind blows, and the bottle makes a humming or ringing sound, you'll know that means there is a spirit trapped inside.

In the 20th Century, this practice had spread throughout the country, primarily in Appalachia, and has become mostly a decorative idea. But, its roots are in the practice of placing bottles over tree branches which was deep-rooted in the legends of the Gullah culture. Bottles would even be tied to trees along main thoroughfares to help to capture any spirits which may be traveling.

You can still see them all over Beaufort SC and our beautiful sea islands to this day.

There is, however, a bit of controversy surrounding the origin of the bottle trees. Some believe that the practice originated the Congo sometime in the 9th century, and others follow it back as far as 1600 B.C. to the  Egyptians.

But historians do agree that bottle trees came to the south from Africa during the slave trading decades.

Though the superstition has been lost quite a bit over the years, the practice is actually rising in popularity throughout the United States as a popular garden decoration.

Yes, they do look pretty in the garden. But, they’re also another tradition that helps keep Beaufort SC’s storied cultural past alive and thriving. You can make your own, or you can see them for sale today at roadside stands particularly on Lady's Island and St. Helena Island.

Beaufort SC is a place where the past and present walk hand in hand every day.

Put a bottle tree in your garden. You'll be happy you did. 

They're beautiful, and they might also just help keep you safe from evil spirits, too.

Latest Blog Posts

Nothing says summer in Beaufort like fresh S.C. peaches

Summer in Beaufort SC means fresh, juicy, local peaches are back in season; a time of year everyone eagerly anticipates. From roadside stands to supermarkets, this delectable fruit graces our

Read More

Beaufort Named Most Patriotic City in South Carolina

Beaufort as just named the Most Patriotic City in South Carolina by the folks at Insurify.com, the popular insurance comparison shopping website. Being the location of a few military bases and

Read More

What You Can Do to Help Sea Turtles

It's sea turtle nesting season on our local Beaufort SC beaches. From May through October, it's a favorite time of the year for many locals here in the Lowcountry. This is the time of year when

Read More

On Hallowed Ground at the Beaufort National Cemetery

The Beaufort National Cemetery is a beautiful site that's been sitting on Boundary Street for over 150 years. With Spanish moss-covered live oaks sheltering the lines of headstones, the cemetery

Read More