Friday, May 13, 2011

Southern Spirit Catchers

The Cranky Queen's Bottle Tree
Southerners are very familiar with the bottle trees that scatter the landscape along the bayous of Louisiana, swampy areas of Mississippi, & back roads of Alabama. Bottle trees were a colorful folk tradition with the "soul" purpose of scaring off or trapping evil spirits.
Original bottle trees were made from trees that were either dead or had all the foliage stripped from the branches to place the bottles on. It was said that the spirits became mesmerized by the dancing reflections in the sun, causing them to be drawn into the bottles and trapped for all eternity!
Baton Rouge, LA ~ Bottle Tree
Pelham, AL ~ Bottle Tree

Birmingham, AL ~ Bottle Tree
Petals from the Past Bottle Tree ~ Jemison, AL
 Growing up in a little bayou town in Louisiana, I was accustomed to seeing bottle trees in yards, & was always cautious to ride my bike swiftly by when passing a home guarded by this mysterious yard art. So once I found out that Birmingham. AL was the home of a restaurant called  
"The Bottle Tree Cafe", I convinced the Cranky King to tag along 
(for protection of any escaped spirits, of course!)
The food was wonderful & the decor...worth the visit!

Examples of the bottle trees at The Bottle Tree Cafe located in Birmingham, AL

This Bottle Tree "freaked" the Cranky King out a little bit @ The Bottle Tree Cafe

Today, most bottle trees are made from re-barb metal welded in various shapes & styles. They have become quite the yard art for those wanting to recycle bottles & contribute to this dying Southern tradition.
According to legends, the glass bottle trees originated in Northern Africa during a period when superstitious people believed that a genii could be captured in a glass bottle. This practice was taken to North America, particularly in the South, by African slaves.

The Cranky Queen could have filled  many bottle trees with the empty wine bottles from her love of wine...Let's put it this way,  I need a little "whine" with my wine...



  1. I started a blue bottle tree last year. Whenever I see a blue bottle cheap enough at a sale I snag it up ;)
    Love the info, thanks for sharing

  2. An appropriate post for Friday the 13th. :-) My tree finally has enough on it to pull it out of the shadows. Looking forward to our visit to The Bottle Tree Cafe!

  3. Tammy I love your post! Never seen a bottle tree before! Neat! I'll have to save the reunite bottles. lol Oh are they for displaying on special days or anytime? Hugs Tee

  4. The bottle trees are gorgeous! So creative. Love all the blues in the previous post - how can anyone not like blue?! I think I mentioned to you I knew Lena Taylor from church years ago...I think your town is so small that everybody probably knows everybody. Linda

  5. I love the bottle trees. Thank you for sharing!
    Have a great weekend!

  6. I had a neighbor in NM who was very artsy and she had several bottle trees. I always thought they were so fun especially the blue trees! Didn't know the history behind them- that was interesting!

    bee blessed

  7. I just found a new dark red at Binny's ... do you have a Binny's?

  8. Well, being in Louisiana, I've seen those and LOVE them! And believe me, I hope your parents are safe and I hope we are too...this is too scary. Sending Hugs your way,

  9. Hahaha! LOVE it! and Love that you guys are cranky :) my mr. cranky pants would probably love that restaurant!

  10. Dear Crank:
    This Jersey girl had NO clue such a thing existed! Very cool!!! Thanks for the history lesson. Oh and I'm with the King...that scary head on the bottle tree is something out of a horror flick!

  11. What a fun post! I loved hearing all the background on bottle trees. This is the first time I ever heard any of that! Thanks for joining TTF. Have a wonderful day!

  12. Bonjour and Howdy, Tammy,
    Just dropping in and so glad I did. Love this post and have to agree with everyone else -- the blue bottle trees are my favorite. And knowing the history/beliefs behind the design make it all the more interesting. And congrats on your growing queendom, Your Majesty:) My grandmother raised chickens and I have an endearing image of her feeding them, similar to the pic you posted......

  13. I never knew the bottle trees were anything but pretty garden art. That's fascinating! I just learned lately that the blue ceilings on porches have some sort of meaning (which of course I have forgotten now). We don't have as many fun folklore up here in the North I guess.