Back in April 2015, I tallied the most popular nature names for girls. We’ve received two years’ worth of data since then, and the Top Ten have changed quite a bit.
Here’s 2015’s list:
Nature names for girls account for seven of the current US Top 100. That’s considerable. To find the most popular nature names for boys, we had to start with #182.
I stopped counting after the Top 20 on the boys’ side. We’d left the US Top 1000 at that point. With girls, I could go on and on and on … This lists ends with the 30 most popular nature names for girls as of 2017 – but more familiar could easily qualify.
As always, it’s the names I disqualify that raise the most questions. I counted Luna, but not Stella. Brooke but not Isla, Ruby and Pearl but not Gemma. If anything, the number of nature-inspired names makes it feels as if the majority of popular girl names claim some tie to the natural world.
Let’s take a look at the most popular nature names for girls as of 2017.
Nature Names for Girls #1: Lily
Current US popularity rank: #24
Lily ranked #1 on the nature names for girls list in 2015. Two years later, the flower power name still holds the top spot. Many more girls answer to longer Lily names, too, making this one feel very popular, indeed. Lillie once reigned as the most popular spelling, but today the flower and the girl nearly always share the same spelling. My favorite Lily fact? It’s possible this name evolved as a nickname for Elizabeth, and Lillian and company came later.
Nature Names for Girls #2: Violet
Current US popularity rank: #47
Elegant and vintage, Violet is back in a big way today. Once considered shrinking and shy, we now tend to think of this name as vibrant and bold. Some credit goes to Downton Abbey’s inimitable Dowager Countess of Grantham, played by Dame Maggie Smith. There’s also Violet of The Incredibles – the teenage sister. The Disney-Pixar superhero family is back for another adventure in 2018, so that can only boost this stylish name.
Nature Names for Girls #3: Hazel
Current US popularity rank: #52
Hazel has spiked in use, climbing from the #10 spot in 2015 to #3 today. Gentle, vintage, and frills-free, a number of celebrity parents have embraced the name, from Julia Roberts to Emily Blunt. Factor in John Green’s appealing Hazel Grace from A Fault in Our Stars and no surprise this name is catching on.
Nature Names for Girls #4: Autumn
Current US popularity rank: #65
Autumn first attracted attention at the end of the 1960s. It’s now the most popular of the season names for girls. Tailored and modern, it rose as names like Allison and Erin fell. There’s even an Autumn in the British royal family now. Queen Elizabeth’s eldest grandson, Peter Phillips, married Canadian-born Autumn Kelly in 2008.
Nature Names for Girls #5: Ruby
Current US popularity rank: #71
Count Ruby among the most colorful of names, a sister to Scarlett and Blue. But this gemstone name also brings to mind the natural world. Rubies can come in shades as light as pink, but we tend to think of the more vivid, richer reds. It’s also a favorite girl’s name used in song lyrics, from Dion to Kenny Rogers to Rancid to the Kaiser Chefs. Choose your lullaby!
Nature Names for Girls #6: Luna
Current US popularity rank: #77
Luna doubled its standings on this chart, rising from #12 in 2015 to #6 today. The Latin and Spanish word for moon instantly brings to mind the night sky, but also a quirky Harry Potter heroine and plenty of celebrity kids. The sound – heavy on the L and the oo – helps, too, as it fits right in with fellow Top 100 names Lily, Ruby, and Lucy, as well as so many two-syllable, ends-in-a choices for girls.
Nature Names for Girls #7: Willow
Current US popularity rank: #96
Willow has climbed on the US charts as well as the nature names for girls rankings. Not so long ago, Willow was a wild celebrity baby name, courtesy of power couple Will and Jada Smith. (She’s named for dad; son Jaden was named for mom.) A bewitching Buffy the Vampire Slayer character boosted the name, too, and don’t forget our affection for growing o-ending names for girls. No surprise this gentle but modern sounding choice continues to climb.
Nature Names for Girls #8: Ivy
Current US popularity rank: #112
Take Ava, mix in a healthy dose of nature names for girls, and you’ll arrive at Ivy. It feels slightly edgy, thanks to comic book villain Poison Ivy and a 1992 Drew Barrymore movie. But it also feels privileged and accomplished – think of the Ivy League. Word is that Beyonce and Jay-Z used it as Blue’s middle name to refer to their lucky number, four – IV. A long history of use puts this name in the vintage camp, too, and yet Ivy currently ranks at its popular – ever.
Nature Names for Girls #9: Jade
Current US popularity rank: #117
Rock and roll royal Mick Jagger and his model wife Bianca gave this gemstone name to their daughter way back in 1971. While it wasn’t completely unknown in the US – and has enjoyed use for boys and girls alike over the years – it took the celebrity birth announcement to send Jade into the US Top 1000. Since then, it’s helped spark the rise of spin-off names like Jada and Jayden, but it’s also found a place as a modern, but not invented, gemstone name for a daughter.
Nature Names for Girls #10: Jasmine
Current US popularity rank: #122
Jasmine stands among the most successful Disney princess-inspired baby names of all time. But this name boasts history galore. Older forms Jessamy and Jessamine saw some use in England well before the twentieth century. Seals and Croft’s 1972 hit “Summer Breeze” might have boosted the flower name in the US – the lyrics repeat “blowing through the jasmine in my mind.” Then came actress Jasmine Guy, and finally, the princess of Aladdin fame. It’s remained in heavy use since the 1980s, a modern staple.
Nature Names for Girls #11: Rose
Current US popularity rank: #154
Vintage and lovely, Rose once had little to do with nature names. Instead, the Normans brought it to England, borrowing from Germanic name elements like hros – horse – and hrod – fame. But it quickly became tied to the flower, and now it’s impossible to see Rose as anything but a botanical. Graceful and elegant, spare Rose is cousin to dozens of more elaborate Rose names. Most of these don’t qualify for the list, but there’s no question that Rose belongs in the garden of girls.
I’ve yet to write about just Rose! Check back later and I’ll update this post when I do.
Nature Names for Girls #12: Brooke
Current US popularity rank: #172
Socialite and philanthropist Brooke Astor put this name on the map when she married into the wealthy Astor family in 1953. Actress Brooke Hayward boosted it a little more in the 1960s, but it took young model-actress Brooke Shields to make it a sensation. Our affection for nature names caught up with Brooke. As a surname, it referred to someone who lived near a brook. The extra ‘e’ has stuck, and this spelling spent nearly three decades in the US Top 100.
I’ve yet to write about Brooke! Check back for future updates.
Nature Names for Girls #13: Iris
Current US popularity rank: #186
Iris counts as a goddess name, a flower name, a color name, and a name borrowed from the sky. How can so much meaning attach to just four letters? A favorite 90s rock ballad uses the name, and even though it’s never left the US Top 1000, it’s more popular than ever today. Credit clearly goes to The Goo Goo Dolls’ 1998 smash hit, but also to the name’s many qualities. In Greek myth, Iris served as goddess of rainbows, delivering messages for Hera and the other gods by traveling to Earth over the colorful arcs.
Nature Names for Girls #14: Daisy
Current US popularity rank: #190
Daisy feels light and fresh, a name for a summer day. Bicycle Built for Two serves as a built-in lullaby. Henry James’ Daisy Miller makes it literary – and tragic. Downton Abbey’s hard-working character by the name lends it some backbone. Sometimes associated with Margaret, Daisy most often stands on its own. It’s a bright botanical, a nature name more casual than Rose, but with nearly as much history.
Nature Names for Girls #15: Summer
Current US popularity rank: #201
Call Summer one of the first hippie nature names to break into the mainstream. It debuted in the US Top 1000 in 1971; though it was bestowed in small numbers throughout the twentieth centuries. Rachel Bilson and Zooey Deschanel have worn the name, and Christina Aguilera gave it to her daughter. While Summer lags Autumn on the charts these days, once it was the opposite. Credit for Summer’s 1970s surge likely goes to Miss USA 1975, Summer Barthlomew – born Robin Summer Bartholomew in November 1951.
I’ve yet to write about Summer! Check back for updates.
Nature Names for Girls #16: Rowan
Current US popularity rank: #238
Rowan makes the boys’ list, too. In general, tree names tend to trend masculine. But Rowan has gained steadily for boys and girls alike since the 1990s. Some credit goes to Anne Rice’s Rowan Mayfair, the witch at the center of her other popular paranormal series, The Witching Hour. But Brooke Shields gave the name to her firstborn daughter in 2003, pushing this upbeat Irish name into the girls’ Top 1000.
Nature Names for Girls #17: June
Current US popularity rank: #268
Is June a nature name? Since I counted August for boys, I feel like June belongs for girls. It reads vintage and gentle, and a little more word-like than Mae, the merry month name. (Mae ranks #582, and May fails to chart, so they’re still far less popular as given names.) More traditional than summer, June still brings to mind every bit of seaside and sunshine, picnics and green grass. It’s an easy name to love, but if June strikes you as incomplete, longer forms abound.
Nature Names for Girls #18: Olive
Current US popularity rank: #272
Chart-topping Olivia feels slightly less like a nature name. But Olive is straight-up edible, while still feeling perfectly traditional. From Popeye’s girlfriend to Olive the Other Reindeer, the name is familiar to children. But until recently you wouldn’t meet a baby Olive. It departed the US Top 1000 in the 1950s, not returning until 2007. A bonus? The olive branch is a symbol of peace, lending this tailored name a rich meaning.
Nature Names for Girls #19: River
Current US popularity rank: #286
Another name appearing on both the girls’ and the boys’ nature names lists, River arrived recently for girls. Inspired by the tragic death of actor River Phoenix, this quiet nature name has been in the boys’ Top 1000 since 1994. It only appeared on the girls’ list starting in 2009. With so many kids answering to Carter and Hunter – as well as Harper and Piper – it seems inevitable that River will trend unisex. River names, on the other hand, tend to be slightly more gendered, like Afton.
Nature Names for Girls #20: Juniper
Current US popularity rank: #352
In some ways, Juniper can claim history. Junipero Serra founded a mission in eighteenth century California. Today, Serra is considered a saint. Serra’s name came from Brother Juniper, a companion of Saint Francis. That dates Juniper to the 1200s. But as a given name for girls in the US, scarcely heard before the 1960s and popular only in recent years. It brings to mind 1970s chart-topper Jennifer, but feels fresh and distinctive, too.
Nature Names for Girls: More
If the girls’ list continued, it would include Sage, Aspen, Dahlia, Skye, Rosemary, Raven, Winter, Magnolia, Wren, Holly, and Pearl. It’s a mix of the modern and the vintage, names from birds and flowers, gemstones and trees.
Even parents who aren’t especially outdoorsy or into word names could easily find at least a few nature names for girls that would fit in with their shortlists.
What are your favorite nature names for girls?