Lily is wildly popular. Kayla has inspired dozens of spin-offs. So why shouldn’t this botanical choice be the next big thing?

Thanks to Corinne for suggesting Calla as Name of the Day.

Nature names have been trending upwards for years. Some are simple floral picks, like Lily and Rose. Others are as adventurous as Canyon. Somewhere in between fall a host of floral appellations that are seldom heard, but seem perfectly wearable as given names. Calla is among the most promising of the bunch.

Calla lilies are popular picks for brides. Because they’re also associated with Easter, it’s a nice choice for a spring-born baby, too. They’re native to Africa and are part of the genus zantedeschia. (That mouthful of a moniker honors Italian botanist Giovanni Zantedeschi.) Diego Rivera painted them more than once.

Despite the blooms’ use, Calla has never caught on as a name. A few Victorians discovered her, and she briefly charted in the US Top 1000 during the nineteenth century.

Two Callas turn up, one real and one fictional:

  • Back in the 1980s, the Gummi Bears leapt from the candy shop to Saturday morning television. The cartoon included the human Princess Calla, one of the few people aware of the bears’ existence;
  • Late NBC president Brandon Tartikoff named one of his daughters Calla, presumably as a clever nod to mom, Brandon’s wife Lilly. Since Tartikoff was at the helm when the Gummi Bears show debuted, sources suggest that Princess Calla is named in her honor.

While there’s no linguistic connection, the name also conjures up operatic legend Maria Callas. And if you’re a Stephen King fan, there’s Calla Bryn Sturgis, a place name in his Dark Tower saga. (In fact, more than one Calla dots his fantastic landscape.)

Some sites link Calla to the Greek word kallos, or beauty. It’s another point in favor of her use.

Circa 2009, Calla could be the perfect choice for parents hoping to strike a balance between standing out and fitting in. While she’s been out of the Top 1000 since the 1890s, consider her similarity to:

  • Top Ten favorites Emma and Hannah, as well as Clara, Sara, Ella, Bella, Stella and Leah;
  • Other C-starters like Chloe and Claire;
  • Trendy favorites like Kayla and Kaylee;
  • Nickname names like Callie and Carly;
  • Fellow floral picks Daisy, Rose and Iris.
With a subtle artistic vibe and characteristics shared with today’s hottest names, it is tough to go wrong with Calla. Her only possible shortcoming is the inevitable confusion between Calla and Kayla, Clara and the rest of the bunch. But one simple explanation: “It’s Calla, like the lily” should have fellow parents wondering why they never thought of this one.

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.

You May Also Like:

What do you think?


  1. Yes. I wanted to use this name, but got pooh-poohed by not only my husband but my mother-in-law, who claimed it sounded “unfinished”. Sad, because I think I could have been fine with Call; whereas now my girls name list has gotten out of control (almost 45 names being considered) as I try to find one I like equally well.

    And we ARE having a girl…found out last week! 🙂
    This is wonderful, but WE’RE NEVER GOING TO DECIDE ON A NAME!! 🙁