She’s a little bit hippie chick, a little bit granny chic.
Thanks to Bek for suggesting Fern as Name of the Day.
Fern is that kind of name. Visit your local playground and listen. If you hear Opal, Roscoe and Atticus, you’re in the right place to name a daughter Fern. If you hear mostly Madison and Aiden? Not so much. Isabella and Oliver? Maybe.
Much has been made of Hipster Baby Names, but many are gaining in use. As Asher and Sadie go mainstream, could Fern be among the Hipster Baby 2.0 choices?
While plenty of botanicals are enjoying heights of popularity, Fern has felt as dated as a macrame plant hanger. And indeed, the plants themselves are ancient. Mesozoic era dinosaurs would’ve munched on them. (You might try it, too – but be careful. Only some ferns are edible.)
Ferns themselves have much to recommend them – they’re easy to grow. A number of folk traditions hold that ferns can bestow invisibility or serve as guides to secret treasure. The Victorians went wild for ferns, collecting and preserving them. They called it Fern Fever or Pteridomania.
Pteridomania refers to their phylum – pteridophyta. (They’re also referred to as filicophyta.) There are more than 20,000 types of ferns in all, as well as a few not-ferns that we lump together. As for the word fern, it comes from the Old English fearn, which traces back to the Greek pteron – feather – and brings us full circle to the scientific name.
The unrelated Fernando and Fernanda are both found in the US Top 1000, but Fern? She last charted in 1961. Her best showing was 1916 at #152.
Notable Ferns are few. There was Fern Fitzgerald, the actress who appeared on Dallas as Marilee back in the 1970s. In the 1940s, the NHL’s Fernand Majeau of the Montreal Canadiens was known as Fern.
The Fern that you might think of is the (human) heroine of Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White’s novel about a barn spider’s efforts to save Wilbur the Pig from the butcher’s block. First published in 1952, it is a beloved tale. Fern Arable takes a backseat to the talking livestock, but she’s the one who first rescued the runt.
But is Fern ready to join the garden of girls? Other old lady appellations are back – for every Mikayla, there’s a Violet. And choices like Hazel, Iris and Ivy can rise through the rankings, is Fern such an outlandish choice?
Perhaps the challenge with Fern is that you’ll have to be willing to embrace her spare, tailored sensibility. Yes, you could call her Ferny, or possibly Fee. But there’s not much wiggle room with this choice. If you can overlook that, though, Fern could be ready for reconsideration.
Your macrame plant hanger, however, will still have to go.