Almost more of a natural coatrack than a tree, the Edisto Mystery Tree has nonetheless become a festive magnet for zany decorations in a tradition that has no clear origin.
The tree stands a stone’s throw away from where Highway 174 intersects with Botany Bay Road. It’s nothing more than a scraggly little thing, but for generations it’s been decorated by locals and vacationers all throughout the year. During the peak summer months, it is commonplace to see beach chairs, sand pails, flip flops, Independence Day decorations, and a host of other items hanging from the tree. Like the seasons, the tree changes along with them. While the tree is ever-changing, the real mystery behind the tree is that nobody knows just who started the whole thing to begin with. In fact at one point some rebellious youths uprooted the tree and hauled it away, but lo and behold, some mysterious benefactor planted another similar tree in its place. Whether it was the same person who planted the original tree and started the decorative tradition or just a local who couldn’t stand to see the festive plant disappear, it appears that the Edisto Mystery Tree is not going away any time soon.