Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Origin of the Bottle Tree & More Photos

The first photo was taken in 2007 in Milano, Texas and is the framework and beginning of a bottle house. I'm not sure if was finished, but intend to check into it. The second photo is, I believe, an older bottle tree, but I can't remember where I found it... so not sure of location. I'm not sure why, but I cannot seem to get the photos to post where I want them... but I suppose this works too. Following is an excerpt from wikipedia giving a brief history of the bottle tree.
The Origin of the Bottle Tree
Bottle trees have their roots in Congo culture. The practice was brought over by slaves who hung blue bottles from trees and huts as talismans to ward off evil spirits. It is believed that the spirits are dazzled by the colors of the bottles in the sun. Once they enter the bottle, they can't find their way out, much like flies. It is just as well, as they would prefer to remain intoxicated by the colorful prisms of color created by the interplay with the sun than wandering about haunting people.According to Wikipedia, "Glass 'bottle trees' orginated in Northern Africa during a period when superstitious people believed that a genii or imp could be captured in a glass bottle. Legend had it that empty glass bottles placed outside the home could "capture" roving (usually evil) spirits at night, and the spirit would be destroyed the next day in the sunshine. This practice was taken to Europe and North America by African slaves. While Europeans adapted them into hollow glass spheres known as "witch balls" the practice of hanging bottles in trees became widespread in the Southern states of North America, where they continue to be used today as colorful garden ornaments.Bottle trees have been featured as accessories in most of the prestigious flower show garden displays all over the world.Additionally, glass bottles, which have long been placed in windows for color ("poor man's stained glass"), are also commonly used to line flower beds."Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bottle_tree


  1. The explanation of the bottle trees is interesting! I'm still not sure if I actually like how the bottle trees look, but, maybe that's because we don't see them up North! The bottles sure are pretty, though! Thanks for sharing! :)

  2. I've never seen a bottle tree. My mother used to collect colored bottles and put them on the window sill. Bottles are pretty bland colors here: brown, clear, and sometimes green.

  3. Colleen: Bottle trees may be an acquired taste! I've always liked folk art... outsider art... not positive, but it may be more popular in the south.

    Nancy: Yes, those are the easiest to find colors. I forgot to mention many people today use colored glass vases... or they color the inside of glass bottles... the painted bottles do not keep their color more than a few years (as a rule). Some recycling centers and bars/restaurants will save colored bottles for you. I hope you decide to make one... maybe just a small one... you can often find tiny colored glass bottles at Hobby Lobby and places like that... or at flea markets... the tiny bottles come in several great colors. Jeannie

  4. I have a bottle tree that I created by using nails in a dead cedar that stands atop one of my gardens. all my garden "treasures" are organic in nature, in that they are either concrete stepping stones that I did tile mosaics on using reclaimed or "throw-away" tiles from big box stores, making beautiful and comfy stepping stones. I googled orgin of bottle trees today after a friend who teaches shamanism all over the world had seen my tree and told me the origin from Africa. Bottles were hung by strings upright, however, originally, as I understand. Just dangling about. Mine survived high winds on edge of Hurricane Rita a few yrs ago; has done well, not lost a bottle yet.