CLAIM-TO-FAME: The Tree Spirits of St. Simons Island

Apr 10 2013

by Ramey Shirah

Locals love to claim them and tourists long to find them. They are our magical friends, the tree spirits, and they might just inspire you.

Created by artist and unassuming local celebrity, Keith Jennings, the first tree spirit arrived on St. Simons Island in 1982. The old story goes that Keith negotiated his way out of a bar tab, hence, a tree priestess was born behind Murphy’s Tavern, on a blurry Saturday morning. In his own words, however, Keith states that his first tree spirit was created in the back yard of a place called, “The Animal Farm”. Either way, Keith Jennings has been known to cut the rug around here, no matter how you slice it.

Over the years, we have proudly become home to more than 15 of Keith’s commissioned works. Most of the tree spirits were inspired by the sailors of days gone past, but some have chosen to take on a life of their own. Their mysterious presence casts an enchanting spell over our small coastal town and they connect us to the natural world around us.

It takes an expert skill level to achieve a final result like these, and rest be assured, the carvings have been granted the green light by local arborists. Unfortunately, one of the tree spirits did succumb to ants, which led to fungus, but its face is still mostly intact. So, if you’re hoping to discover a tree spirit the next time you are on St. Simons Island, it only takes a little bit of luck, and oh yeah, the map helps too. Just look up! You might be surprised to see who is gazing back at you…



MAP TO TREE SPIRITS ON SSI:,-81.364574&spn=0.073849,0.109692&z=13&msid=117709519735714247331.000485b3b8d675a893d8c

Ramey Shirah, a Southern Coterie contributor, has an exquisite eye for photography and a big heart for conservation and nature. She lives on St. Simons Island and shares pictures and insights on her blog, You can also visit Golden Isles Insider on fb or @goldenislesGA on twitter for more insider scoops!


Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts