Nature Names not birds or flowersName Help is a series at Appellation Mountain. Every week, one reader’s name questions will be discussed.

We’re relying on thoughtful comments from the community to help expectant parents narrow down their name decisions. Thank you in advance for sharing your insight!

Meghan writes:

We have two daughters, Wren Eliza and Briar Elin, and we’re expecting a third daughter in October. I love being mama to these sweet, crazy girls, but I’m feeling stuck when it comes to a name.

Outdoorsy names are our “thing.” Nature names seem to be mostly flowers and trees, or maybe birds. Because we have one of each kind of name already, we’d like something a little different.

We don’t like fussy or girly names, we also don’t want anything that seems like it’s meant for boys. (Especially because people seem to assume that we must be “trying for a boy” this time.)

So far our list is Ember, but I don’t love it with Briar. Also, her middle name has to start with El (a family thing!) so Ember El… might be a lot of E.

We’ve always liked that Wren and Briar are a little different, but not necessarily Kardashian-level different.

Is there a third name out there that goes well with Wren and Briar and works with all of my crazy rules?!

Please read on for my response, and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.

Dear Meghan –

Congratulations on your new daughter!

And what a fun challenge. (Easy for me to say, right?)

I think you’re on the right track with Ember. It’s clearly a word name, and one that brings to mind the natural world. It feels feminine, but tailored.

Still, I do wonder if eliminating all flower/tree names might be a little extreme?

Here’s what we’re looking for:

  • A name clearly drawn from the natural world, probably familiar as a noun.
  • Something recognizable, but not normally used in everyday speech – so yes, Briar or Wren might come up. But it sounds like Star isn’t quite right, either. But then, neither is Calyx, which isn’t familiar outside of botany textbooks.
  • A name like River might work, except it’s used in bigger numbers for boys, and we’re looking for something tailored, but not borrowed from the boys.
  • And we’re (mostly) avoiding flowers/trees and birds.

That does leave lots of options. Colors, weather, gemstones, spices, water, night sky names … I think quite a few possibilities exist, even if we avoid every flower and tree name. But I think some really, really good flower and tree names feel different enough, so I might sneak one (or even two!) on to my list of suggestions.

Here goes!


Autumn – You’re due in October, so Autumn feels like a natural name. It’s more common than Wren or Briar, but not by much. And it fits perfectly – feminine, tailored, and clearly borrowed from the natural world without repeating a category.

Bay – River belongs to the boys, but Bay tends to read feminine, or at least unisex. That’s because television series Switched at Birth followed a teenager named Bay Kennish. It’s much rarer than Briar or Wren, but it fits your family’s style.

Clover – Does this count as a flower or tree name? It’s a flowering plant, technically. Maybe it’s too close to Briar, either in meaning, or maybe in that shared -r ending. But it’s an upbeat name that signals good fortune, and sounds just right with your girls’ names.

Jonquil – No question, Jonquil is a flower – usually yellow, a cousin to the daffodil. But unlike Lily or Rose, few are using it as a given name. In fact, this might hit Kardashian-level different. Except we’re living in the age of Marigold and Azalea, so I think Jonquil fits.

Lake – Lake has more history of use than you might guess. Actor Lake Bell puts in on the girls’ list, but it’s used as unisex, in sparing but steady numbers, since the early twentieth century.

Meadow – A meadow might be full of wildflowers, but it’s a habitat – a category of nature name you’ve yet to consider. Plus, it has a different ending sound that Wren and Briar, which is pleasing, and feels comparable in terms of popularity, too.

Sage – It’s a color name and an herb, with the bonus meaning of wisdom.

Vale – A poetic term meaning valley, Vale isn’t quite as obvious as Wren or Briar, but I think it works.

Overall, Meadow is my favorite. I think it answers every one of your requests, and would pair well with an El- middle.

But I know there will some great suggestions from the community, so let’s open it up for comments.

Readers, what would you name a sister for Wren and Briar?

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. To go with your Wren and Briar I like:
    Sage – name of a herb, wise
    Luna – moon
    Isla – island
    Afton – river

  2. They’ve got flora and fauna, so I would suggest either (merri-)weather or celestial names! My first thought was “Stella” until I read the middle-name-begins with “El-“, as that wouldn’t work. But Venus, or Sky, or Dawn, or something like that would work. Or even something a bit more out there like “Comet”. Or even “Constellation” (with a nickname Connie) is a possibility!

  3. Rayne and Brooke are great but if repeating initials and sounds don’t suit…
    Celeste and Skye is great!

    there’s North or West/Westyn, Juno, Soleil, Luna or Stella, India or Indigo, Story or True, Phoenix, or Acadia.

  4. There are so, so many names I love in this category- so of course I’ve forgotten most of them in this moment! But my big, big thought is gemstone names, or water-y names. So I would go with Pearl, which is both. 😉 But as a second choice, I think Opal hits a lot of the same appeal. To me, they don’t read “girly”, just feminine.

    The hesitance I feel is that I’m not sure if you want broad nature names*, or specifically OUTDOORSY names. Pearl and Opal don’t feel like you’re hiking on the trail in the woods, but Wren and Briar do. Going from Abby’s list, Vale is my absolute favorite for your sibset, and it hits that sort of “finally walking up the crest of the mountain to see the view laid out before you” vibe your first two do.

    *pun not intended

  5. Haven and Harbor came to mind but have been mentioned. Linnea is a flower pick but not too obvious. Poppy is all flower but has a different sound from your girls. Clementine would be super sweet! Or Posey! How about Delta? Beryl? Rosemary?

  6. Cassia like the spice would be my pick.
    I love your current sibset so much!

    Other ideas…

    I guess I’m into the ends-in-a names!

    I can’t wait to hear what you choose.

  7. After further consideration- I would name her Rayne.

    Sounds familiar, yet natural, water, yet feminine. Surely a name, just NOT a common one. I find Rayne to be lovely.

    It has two ways to hear it. For you- natural, and calming raindrops pattering on the window. For family, and friends, Rain- no- Rayne. Ties in the princess element that Briar has. You have a arbor, and bird name, so why not a feminine and recognizable water name?

    Rayne, Wren, and Briar. All different initials, endings, and natural ties, but are Wren and Rayne too similair?

    Nicknames could be Rayney, later altered to be the more sophisticated Rae. Or, she may choose to stay Rayne. Rayne would give here room to grow into. I love the sophisticated nature of this purely natural name.

    May your baby be a Rae of sunshine in the darkness, and as calming as rain, a reminder to slow down and take life a day at a time.

  8. I know you don’t want trees, but Linden seemed like a nice unisex name that sounds really different from Briar and Wren. Lark is also good if you change your mind about birds.


    For other ideas maybe look to what attracts you to the outdoors. I’m a mountaineer, so my head went to mountains. You might have other thoughts from where you live, but here are some West Coast ideas. I’ve met girls from outdoorsy families with the first two of these names…


    Also, Chelan is a name from the native tribe, the interior Salish Tribe in WA. It’s also a popular lake. It means “deep water” and I’ve also met a woman with the name.

    Chelan (pronounced Sha- lan)

  9. I do like Meadow! But also have you considered Garnet or Opal? Still very much from the natural world, but a little less common. I also think Coral would be a perfect fit!