What’s with the blue bottles hanging on the tree?

If you have visited Tall Pines Inn, you may have noticed a peculiar looking tree with blue bottles hanging from the branches. There are a few interpretations of these unusual glass bottle trees. In recent times these bottle trees have become a popular ornamental staple. You can find them in gardens and front yards. So why all the interest?

Bottle tree with blue bottles hanging on it Cabins in the background Bottle tree with blue bottles hanging on it Cabins in the background

Why Blue

Blue is the preferred color of the original bottle tree bottles, especially Haint blue. Haint blue was a pigment harvested from crushed Indigo plants and used to paint the porch ceilings of Southern homes and servant quarters. Cobalt blue or Blue Nun wine bottle blue also describe the blue of these bottles.

Gullah people, a community with connections to the enslaved Africans off of the coast of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, placed special significance on blue. The Haint shade of blue for the Gullah represents water, which spirits cannot cross over.

Story Behind the Tree

Variations of the legend explain how people would cork the bottles in the morning, trapping the evil spirits who slipped inside during the previous evening. The corked bottle would be thrown away with the spirit.

Over the centuries, the meaning of the bottle tree has evolved. A popular interpretation is that the bottle tree protects the home and garden by capturing evil spirits. This interpretation says that evil spirits are drawn into the bottles by their bright, sparkling colors. Once the evil spirit is inside the bottle, sunlight destroys the evil spirit.  Another discernment says evil spirits get trapped in the bottles in the evening, and the morning sunshine destroys them.

Bottle tree with blue bottles hanging from the branches cabin in the back ground

Listen for Yourself

Listen close the next time you pass by a bottle tree. Hearing the sound of the wind blowing across the top of the bottles may mean that evil spirits are in the process of being trapped in the bottles. It’s possible to hear the howls and moans of the forlorn ghosts when the wind blows through the trees. These beautiful bottle trees are also thought to bring in good luck, needed rain, and to make plants and trees bloom.

Blue bottle hanging on a bottle tree