Copyright © Janice Tracy, Cemeteries of Dancing Rabbit Creek.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Bottle Tree in the Cemetery

According to an article published last year by Lucinda Coulter in The Tuscaloosa (Alabama) News, a myth of long ago was brought into the southern U.S. in the 18th century by African slaves. The myth centered around a belief that bottles placed on trees could catch evil spirits and subsequently would prevent those spirits from entering a home. Some of these early "bottle trees" were native cedars adorned with blue bottles. Bottles that were blue in color were preferred for use in building these trees in a variety of sizes, since the color blue was believed to signify the existence of "healing powers."

Eudora Welty, a well-known Mississippi writer, published a story entitled "Livvie" in 1943 that preserved the lore of the "protection" afforded by these "bottle trees." And bottle trees of all shapes and sizes continue to adorn yards throughout the rural south. In recent years, pre-built "bottle trees" have become "folk art" and are sold in patio and yard art stores throughout the country. Not only are the trees placed on patios and in yards, they are also used as decoration inside the home.

It is interesting in this picture, taken by Natalie Maynor, that a small bottle tree, made with blue bottles, and illuminated by its own solar-powered accent light, appears in a Holmes County, Mississippi cemetery.


  1. WOW!! I love bottle trees. You only see them in the South, altho I heard of one in New York. And to find it is a graveyeard. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Janice, I had to smile and read this to Shubert. There is actually a blue bottle tree several blocks from us in the backyard of a home here in North Richland Hills. It is beautiful and I've thought several times that I should stop and ask permission to photograph it. Wonder if they are from Mississippi?