Folklore Ghost Stories Heritage

Bottle Trees

Bottle Trees

Ever seen a bottle tree? Usually the bottles are stuck on the branches of the tree.

This one near my house-has some bottles on branches-and some hanging from branches.

The history of bottle trees can be traced back centuries. The thought is-at night when spirits are roaming the countryside they get sucked into the bottles and can’t get out. Once morning arrives-and the sun begins to shine-the heat kills the bad spirit stuck in the bottle. I’ve seen a few bottle trees around my area-but believe they are more common farther south. To see some amazing bottle trees click here.

Hope you’ll leave me a comment and tell me if you’ve ever seen a bottle tree-or maybe you have one?

Tipper

 

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42 Comments

  • Reply
    Teresa
    March 13, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Somehow I missed this post! Our porch pillars are cedar posts with some of the limb stubs left on. Having seen a bottle tree somewhere in my childhood, I had hubby to leave the limbs on just for this purpose, colorful bottles. I never realized the reason behind bottles trees, I just thought they were a pretty tribute to my fading childhood memories. My plans for my future garden spot (in progress) is to leave the dead cedar in the middle of the garden to hang all my bottles on as a focal point! I’ll post pics when we finish it.

  • Reply
    Tiffany
    April 7, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Tipper
    I am a friend of twisted fencepost, she lead me to your blog. I know I am alittle late with this comment but I am from VA Northern part I love the interesting stories and info you have on here. and I thought I was from the south but I have learned after moving to SC I am more Northern than I like..Hee Hee Love the post on the bottle tree. never knew it had a function just thought it was for looks.
    Tiffany

  • Reply
    SandyCarlson
    October 25, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    Oh, I’m bringing that tradition north. That is so worth a try!

  • Reply
    Marie
    October 25, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    I never saw one growing up, in Western Colorado we had a neighbor with one, I thought it was just decorative.
    I think our family’s would have been full of Jim Beam bottles, though, if my folks had tried that. Not sure it would have been so pretty.

  • Reply
    Calann
    October 24, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    The ones I saw in the deep south had blue bottles on the branches. That’s because, legend says, spirits think the bottles are pieces of the sky. They jump into them and get trapped, etc.
    It is quite a sight to behold. Traveling in the middle of nowhere and suddenly you see a tree twinkling with dozens of blue bottles, all shades of blue. You think you are hallucinating. And then you think, oh yes, a bottle tree.
    I’m no longer in the deep south. But to this day, I keep blue bottles on my windowsills. Just in case…

  • Reply
    CheE
    October 23, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    I had to share what my husband just said about what he thought a bottle tree was, and keep in mind, he grew up in NYC, and has never seen one…”Well it must be where they put the bottle over a pear, let it grow, then fill it with brandy”, he is too cute for words, why I married him!

  • Reply
    CheE
    October 23, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    I once thought about writing a story of how those bottle would capture spirits, way before I read this…amazing how lore still remains so beautiful!
    There is one near a canal here in Princeton, pretty blue bottles, and I do not remember seeing them in Texas much, hmmm… I have seen stain glass designs, and just did not know what they were till now…

  • Reply
    warren
    October 23, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    We live din Nashville and travelled around some in TN and I saw a few of bottle trees there. I have never seen one in the North though…too cold for the evil spirits maybe?

  • Reply
    MissFiFi
    October 23, 2009 at 12:32 am

    thanks for sharing this! I love love love the bottle tree idea especially in a garden. I wonder if I will be the first in NJ to do it?

  • Reply
    Stacey
    October 21, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    I’v never seen a bottle tree, but what a cool idea!

  • Reply
    PictureGirl
    October 21, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Putting bottles in trees has been here in the Ozarks for about as long as any one can remember. My dad said they did it when he was a boy.
    When I was younger and we traveled around the country, the Ozarks, were the only places to see this hillbilly artwork.
    I remember reading a magazine article in the late 60’s that told about hillbilly art and had pictures of the bottled trees from around Missoui and Arkansas.
    With all the different folk moving here, it’s getting to be a lost art. Hope it’s on the comeback. I have bottles in a few trees around my farm.
    Thanks for the great post.

  • Reply
    petra michelle
    October 21, 2009 at 10:59 am

    I have never seen a bottle tree before, Tipper! A very interesting concept and look, indeed! For me, it’s aesthetically pleasing! :))

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    October 21, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Tipper: I don’t have one and have never seen one. My wife would shoot me if I said I was hanging some bottles in our tree.

  • Reply
    Lanny
    October 21, 2009 at 9:49 am

    I like the type of bottle tree you show here. Mostly the hanging bottle tree. I’ve been thinking of doing this in my apple orchard which is essentially my front yard. A friend of mine had her husband build one that looks a lot like a coat tree and she places all of her blue bottles on it – like the bottle stuck on the branch.
    I like the hanging ones, we hung old canning jars with candles or flowers for my daughter’s wedding in our orchard, left them there for a long time, but they collected water all the time, makes for soggy candles. But now I’m thinkin’….

  • Reply
    Jenny-Jenny
    October 21, 2009 at 9:04 am

    I didn’t know it was a real thing. The blind lady in Winn Dixie has a bottle tree, but they represent bad things she did throughout her life, I think.

  • Reply
    Farm Chick Paula
    October 21, 2009 at 9:01 am

    I’ve never seen bottle trees around here, Tipper but I have heard of them…

  • Reply
    Dean - Laughing Owl Farm
    October 21, 2009 at 12:21 am

    I am going to have to put up one of those. The blue bottles are beautiful.

  • Reply
    Nancy Simpson
    October 20, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    Tipper, I’m fascinated with bottle trees. Thanks for Felder’s collection of pictures. I’ve been looking and looking and looking.
    One of the stories in ECHOES ACROSS THE BLUE RIDGE is about a bottle tree, bad spirits etc,
    “The Spirit Tree” by Susan Lefler.

  • Reply
    Greta Koehl
    October 20, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    The closest thing I’ve seen to bottle trees here in Northern Virginia are some smaller trees in a few of the local graveyards that have bottles and glass beads hung on them.

  • Reply
    Farmchick
    October 20, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    I love bottle trees and have a collection of bottles. I just have to find the right tree! I have been enjoying the ghost stories very much!

  • Reply
    Nancy M.
    October 20, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    Wow, I’ve never heard of them! Interesting story!

  • Reply
    My Carolina Kitchen
    October 20, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    How interesting. I’ve never seen or heard of a bottle tree. Bottle bush – yes, but not bottle tree. I’m going to keep my eye out for one.
    Sam

  • Reply
    Marilyn
    October 20, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    Tipper,
    I have never seen a bottle tree before. They are works of art. Some are so elaborate…WOW! Thanks for sharing.
    Hugs,
    Marilyn

  • Reply
    Janet
    October 20, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    I don’t have one, but Granny Sue has a bottle tree. I think they are kind of neat.

  • Reply
    Brenda Kay Ledford
    October 20, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Tipper,
    I have seen bottle hung on trees, but didn’t know the history behind them. This is very interesting. Thanks for sharing this great posting. Happy Halloween!

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    October 20, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Yes, I’ve seen bottle trees but they are rare curiosities in these parts. Yours has beautiful bottles, some quite old, maybe. The glass insulator is especially nice; and old, too.
    Purty tree. As always, purty pictures.

  • Reply
    malcolm
    October 20, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Tipper, I love bottle trees and all the folk lore that goes with it , I have a bottle tree here in Thailand and the neighbors and folks in the village have never seen one and they think its a little strange to put bottles on a tree , not speaking Thai and them not speaking english and Ciejay not being able to explain it to them they just point and laugh , sister Faye in Texas has a beautiful one they put in the yard of their new home , loved the story and post and looked at the links . I’ll e-mail you a picture of my humble bottle tree here in Thailand . DO YOU HAVE ONE IN YOUR YARD ??? Malcolm in Thailand

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 20, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Where have I been??? I don’t remember ever seeing a bottle tree. I’ve been all over the south and lived in lots of southern towns but I don’t recall ever seeing a bottle tree. I’ve seen a lot of toilet flower pots but no bottle trees. I bet I’ll start seeing them now that you have brought it to my attention.

  • Reply
    GrannyPam
    October 20, 2009 at 11:42 am

    I have never heard of or seen a bottle tree previously. I must live in the wrong neighborhood! Interesting post.

  • Reply
    Vera
    October 20, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Never heard of or seen a bottle tree, but I would like to have one.
    Really enjoyed all the pictures.

  • Reply
    threecollie
    October 20, 2009 at 11:04 am

    You don’t see bottle trees up here, but I think they are about the coolest thing. Thanks for explaining the reason behind them.

  • Reply
    Caution
    October 20, 2009 at 10:43 am

    I’ve never heard of a bottle tree, but I think they could be really beautiful! I’m going to google bottle trees now to learn more about them. You know so much, Tipper!

  • Reply
    mary
    October 20, 2009 at 10:27 am

    I’ve read of bottle trees in stories. Most recently in “Pigs in Heaven”, but I didn’t realize that many people still did that. I like the way they dangle on the ones you’ve shown. Our high winds would probably shatter a few. Do you have one?

  • Reply
    Just Jackie
    October 20, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Love this one. I have a bottle tree at the house on Mary King Mountain. I thought the only “spirits” that were in the bottles were what my husband drank before it went up on the bottle tree. LOL

  • Reply
    Mary
    October 20, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Tipper, I’ve seen lots of those bottle trees, but had never heard the history of them. I guess I always thought they were just for decoration, and guess they are now. It’s always fun to know how things got started.
    THanks for the links to the Spooky October stories~I plan to get one posted soon!

  • Reply
    Tammy
    October 20, 2009 at 9:13 am

    I’ve never actually seen a bottle tree…didn’t live fur enough south I reckon! ;D
    Really liked that tee-pee of logs with bottles hanging from it…and the one with the vine of bright flowers twisting their way around!

  • Reply
    olecrowsnest_nan
    October 20, 2009 at 8:56 am

    The only place I have seen a bottle tree in on the movie “Winn Dixie”. That is great that they are real!

  • Reply
    Fencepost
    October 20, 2009 at 8:52 am

    Interesting! I’ve never heard of a bottle tree before.
    I knew there was a reason I was collecting all those old bottles. Now I gotta find a tree for them. Do you have a bottle tree?

  • Reply
    Rick
    October 20, 2009 at 8:39 am

    I have never heard of a bottle tree before, it quite interesting.

  • Reply
    Debbie
    October 20, 2009 at 8:20 am

    I’ve seen bottle trees all my life…just thought it was decorative folk art, but never there was a story behind them! You’re so informative!

  • Reply
    Cre
    October 20, 2009 at 7:19 am

    I LOVE bottle trees! I want to do one so bad but the Hubster just isn’t into it. I’m working on it though. I saved this picture from Southern Living like 4 years ago I think. Soon….thanks for the reminder as to why I keep saving those cool glass jars. :o)

  • Reply
    Carolyn A.
    October 20, 2009 at 6:36 am

    Went to the link and saw the amazing bottle trees. I have seen some myself when we rode South to take SP’s Granny home. Never knew what they were for though; just always assumed they were art. Thanks for setting me straight on what they really mean. Will be keeping my eyes open for more next time we travel. Tipper, that was some good research you did and I love the pictures you took. xxoo

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