Chances are, if you have visited the Lowcountry you have seen bottle trees in peoples yards. But they are more than just pretty yard decorations. The history behind it has some controversy about the true origin of the bottle tree. Some historians believe that the practice originated in the Congo region of Africa around the 9th century. There are others that say it goes back as far as 1600 B.C. to the ancient Egyptians.
Early Africans believed that when night came, the bottles lured and trapped evil spirits in them and held them hostage until the rising morning sun could destroy them. The use of blue bottles is to attract the spirits and once they’re in the bottle, they can’t get out. When the wind blows and the bottle hums, you know that there is a spirit trapped inside.
Cobalt blue is the most popular and traditional color for bottle trees. It is believed that this rich color has healing powers. The color has also been associated with ghosts and spirits. Glass bottles have also been placed in windows and used as “poor man’s stained glass”. Colored bottles have also been used traditionally to line flower beds. Today bottle trees can be seen across the south in a multitude of bright colors.
You can make your own bottle tree by placing a post in the ground, first drilling holes and putting pole barn nails. Want to know a secret? You can order a bottle tree base online. Just google it! Make sure though, you purchase the one where the bottles go on 4 sides. I made the mistake of ordering one that only went on two sides and it had a lot of issues staying up.
Nothing says lowcountry like a bottle tree. Its so fun when you use your own supply that you have donated to your tree, after enjoying the contents! Pictured here is my tree. The blue ones I ordered online and the others were enjoyed by friends and me. So invite your buddies over and tell them to BYOB with some interesting bottles.