Of course, it’s tougher than ever to find nature names that aren’t trending. Once rare choices like Poppy and Ocean now rank in the US Top 1000. Plenty of gender-neutral choices, like Sage, also chart.
While lots of possibilities could join this list based on the name’s meaning, these are (mostly) straight-up word names, easily understood in English to reflect the natural world. Names borrowed from mythology, along with a few imports that might not be quite as obvious do make this list, though.
While many of those nature baby names feel a little modern, it’s worth noting that plenty of nature names lean traditional. The Victorians loved a good floral name, and choices like Leo and Daisy have been around for ages.
The choices are slightly greater for girls, especially because the average flower name, from Jasmine to Lily to Rose, tends to be feminine. Gemstone choices, too, like Ruby and Pearl, are more commonly given to girls.
But there’s a growing group of rare nature names that work nicely for our sons, and even more than are unisex.
RARE FLOWER NAMES
With baby girl names like Magnolia and Marigold ranked in the US Top 1000, why not Amaryllis?
A sweet, spare name, Aven is a small white flower found in mountain regions and colder climes. In fact, it’s the national flower of Iceland!
Take familiar Annabelle, mix in bold Blue, and this flower name is the result.
A flowering vine, Briony – both spellings – has fared better in the UK than the US. If you read or watched Atonement, you might recognize this as the name of the young girl at the center of the
The name of a type of orchid, Calanthe means “beautiful flower” in Greek.
As in the elegant calla lily. A perfect substitute for Stella.
It’s close to Camila, but still different – and the flowers are gorgeous.
Known for their tall, blue spires of flowers, delphinium are familiar in gardens. Delphinia could come directly from the plant – or from one of many other associations with the word. (Think dolphins, princes, and an ancient oracle.) If you’re looking for something as striking as Dahlia, but even rarer, Delphinia could work.
We know it mostly as a sweet song from The Song of Music, but edelweiss is a white flower, especially associated with the Alps.
More commonly known as sweetbrier, Eglantine is an old school flower name that feels distinctively antique.
Another cousin to Violet, and a substitute for Iris, too.
Back in the day, Jessamine and Jessamy were alternate spellings for jasmine. Today, Jasmine is a mainstream favorite, but these rare nature names have potential, too.
A pretty flower in the daffodil family, the flower’s name comes from a Latin word meaning rush or reed.
A possible substitute for Violet.
Another pretty purple flower.
And … one more from the color purple.
UNEXPECTED TREE NAMES
This sounds nicely name-like, an update for Alicia. But the name’s meaning is pointed – it means thorn.
Like Rowan and several other popular choices, Alder is both a tree name and a surname, potentially with separate origins and meanings.
Can’t choose just one tree name? Arbor suggests them all, a sheltered place in a garden formed by tree branches. (Or an artificial one with the same purpose.)
Inspired by the ash tree, Ash is a nature name that brings to mind many a familiar name – from Ashley to Ashlyn, Ashton to Asher. Despite that history of use, the tree name itself remains uncommon.
It’s borrowed from the birch tree, as well as a place name related to groves of birches.
One of several tree names that sounds particularly name-like.
If the Oak tree can inspire names like Oakley and Oaklynn, couldn’t Elm work, too?
Leif is a Norse name, one that sounds quite Viking-like. But Leaf, the word, remains fairly uncommon. Fun fact: it was the birth name of actor Joaquin Phoenix.
Linden trees are found in Europe, North America, and Asia. Europeans call them linden trees, except for the English, who tend to call them lime trees – though they’re not citrus. It seems like an obvious choice for a child in the US, except here we usually call them basswood.
Brief and mighty.
A name that nods to California, as well as the nineteenth century Native American scholar who invented the Cherokee alphabet.
An evergreen name with a spiffy, polished energy.
MORE GREEN AND GROWING NAMES
Quieter than Ivy or Clover, Fern also benefits from the tie to children’s literary classic Charlotte’s Web.
Surnames like Fielding and Fields are familiar, but if can name our daughters Meadow, couldn’t our sons be Field?
Add an ‘e’ and this is a literary surname choice. But hawthorn is a shrub, with a little red berry growing from it, found in North America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa.
Moss Hart was an American playwright; this gentle nature name also has multiple origins and meanings as a surname.
Girls answer to Savannah and Meadow, so why not Prairie?
STONE, MINERAL and GEMSTONE NAMES
We love Jade, while this green stone name with a vintage vibe remains largely overlooked.
An earthy choice with a vibrant sound.
Finn, Flynn … and Flint, a rock that start a fire.
Borrowed from the metal.
It sounds like a twist on long-time favorite Olivia – and it could be! But Olivine is also a mineral, named for its olive green color.
Another green gemstone … which is actually a form of Olivine.
The name’s meaning could be a color, usually referring to horses; a shrub and sometimes herb; the howl of a dog; or a type of window. Lots of ties to the natural world on that list! But the one that seems most likely to appeal in our River/Ocean moment is an inlet in a larger body of water. From the Chesapeake to San Francisco and all the world over, there’s no shortage of unforgettable Bays.
Another choice in the key of Bay.
Bright and upbeat, Lake has always been used in small numbers. But lately it feels like the next unisex word name to watch.
It sounds like the letter C … but Jay and Kay have had their moments. Stormy or tranquil, Sea can suggest all sorts of natural beauty.
ANIMAL and BIRD NAMES
A meaningful symbol of peace, and a stylish sound, too.
A handful of names mean deer or gazelle. (Think of the Hebrew name Ayelet or the Gaelic Fiadh, to name just two.) But Fawn means “baby deer.” It’s stuck in style limbo with Dawn, but feels like a rare nature name anyhow.
If not for the controversial network, Fox might be a favorite today.
A bird of prey, and an attractive sound, too.
Maybe slightly crazy as a first, but sweet as a middle. Zooey Deschanel named her daughter Elsie Otter in 2015.
Strictly speaking, a teal is a type of duck. And Drake makes the Top 1000! Plus, Teal is a pretty shade of blue-green.
Heard in plenty of German names, like Wolfgang and Wolfram, Wolf also stands on its own, a name both wild and brave.
Most likely from a Dutch word meaning slope, in English “brink” now means extreme, like the very edge of a cliff.
Another nature name borrowed from topography.
A little old school, but still a clearly recognizable nature name choice.
A sandy, beach-inspired nature name possibility with hints of sci fi, too.
It brings to mind the legendary character, boxer Rocky Balboa. And it sounds like a nickname for Rocco or possibly a reference to Little Rock, Arkansas. But Rocky also refers to a rugged, craggy surface, like a rocky hiking path.
An alternative to Sierra, borrowed from the red rocks of Arizona’s famous region.
A poetic word meaning valley.
SEASON and TIME NAMES
It’s a month, it’s a verb. It comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. If we name our children June and August, March feels like a contender, too.
As in the first day of the workweek, from the Old English word for moon. File this one somewhere between Luna and Wednesday.
As in the direction, but also the concept of “True North.” Technically, true north refers to north on the earth’s axis, rather than “magnetic north.” Poetically, it means your calling in life, implying purpose and authenticity.
We name our children Summer, Autumn, and Winter, but so far, Spring is mostly overlooked.
SPICES and FRUITS
It feels like an old school gentlemanly name, at home in an English manor. But Basil fits with rare nature names just as well.
It could be a feminine form of many names, like Cassian. But Cassia is also a variety of cinnamon – the one most common in the US. As rare nature names go, Cassia is both subtle and very wearable.
At least as wearable as Clementine.
A golden spice used and traded across thousands of years, Saffron feels like a successor to names like Heather or Laurel.
It’s a spice and it’s a homonym for time, making this a richly meaningful choice.
IMPORTED NATURE NAMES
Parents naming their children the French form of Azalea might be taking inspiration from Saint Azélie Martin, mother of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. But it’s an on-trend choice, too, a little bit Avery, a little bit Sylvie.
Hazel is popular; Evelyn, too. Aveline is the French word for a hazelnut, borrowing the best of both favorites.
A Spanish name for a type of lily.
A Welsh name, Briallen means primrose.
From the Italian word for waterfall, or cascade, Cascata is about as rare as it gets. It’s never been in the Top 1000 in the US, and yet, it can shortened to the user-friendly Cassie.
From the French word for sky and also heaven, Ciel is pronounced See-elle. It’s a pretty choice that fits with the popular -el ending names like Annabel and Isabel, but is fresh and new. The Spanish Cielo takes it even farther, but now ranks in the US Top 1000.
Flora and Florence are having a moment. Fleur, made famous by the Wizarding World, is simply the French translation of flower.
The Spanish equivalent of Fleur.
It’s sometimes considered the Italian equivalent of Juniper, though strictly speaking, it’s the usual translation for Guinevere.
Derived from hyacinth, this sounds more like a literary heroine than a flower power name, but indeed it is.
GODDESSES AND MYTHOLOGY
In Greek myth, she’s the goddess of the harvest, crops, the earth, and seasons.
Roman mythology names the goddess of the dawn Aurora; it’s a smash hit name today. But Greek mythology calls her Eos. With the exception of a skin care company, Eos is seldom heard.
A primordial earth goddess with an on-trend name.
The god of rain, lightning, and thunder in Hinduism.
In Roman mythology, Pomona is the goddess of fruit trees goddess.
Tala is the Philippine goddess of the morning star, also called Venus.
This list is just the start of rare nature names! What would you add?
First published on February 20, 2008, this post was revised substantially and updated on September 28, 2023.