Bottle Trees: More than just a Lowcountry decoration

Dated: 09/16/2019

Views: 528

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

Three Ways Realtors Are Better Than For Sale By Owner

Many sellers ask, “Why should I use an REALTOR® when I can sell it myself and save all that commission?”  That’s a reasonable question and one that can easily be answered.

Read More

History of the Thomas Law Building, our home

The building that houses our offices here at Century 21 Carolina Realty has a very storied past. As with all towns that have been around awhile, there's lots of history to uncover here in Beaufort.

Read More

Forrest Gump movie locations in Beaufort SC

When Paramount Pictures swept into Beaufort SC in August of 1993, everyone was excited that a new movie was filming with Tom Hanks, Sally Field, Robin Wright and a newer actor named Gary Sinese.

Read More

South Carolina flag named best of all

Did you know that the South Carolina state flag was named the best design of all 50 states?They did, and it's really not that surprising.A few years back, popular search engine website Yahoo! ranked

Read More