But it’s not really one category, is it? From vintage gems like Violet to classics like Rose, modern discoveries like Autumn to unisex picks like River, it’s possible to love nature names no matter what your style.
The US Top 1000 – and even the Top 100! – is packed with nature names for girls. New ones are constantly catching parents’ attention, too.
So what makes a nature name?
This is a tough question! Daphne and Vanessa both have meanings that connect them to the natural world, but they’re subtle.
This list focuses mainly on names that occur as nouns in everyday speech. Willow is an obvious example. But Luna makes the list, too. It’s the Latin – and Spanish – word for moon, and so widely recognized that it feels like it fits.
But generally speaking, meaning alone is not enough to make this list. It has to be immediately recognizable as a nature name.
We’ll get to the most popular nature names for girls in just a minute. But first, a look backward.
In April 2015, these were the Ten Most Popular Names Names for girls:
All of them are still in use today, and several of them are more popular now than they were then.
MOST POPULAR NATURE NAMES for GIRLS
50. STORMI (#818)
Ever since Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott named their daughter Stormi, this name has skyrocketed in use. Weather names aren’t new – Misty and Rain have plenty of history. But Stormi’s twenty-first century rise is all about the reality star royals.
49. BIRDIE (#803)
Birdie is a both-and kind of name. It fits with Raven, Robin, and Wren. But it’s also sweetly vintage, an alternative to Maisie or Hattie. In some cases, Birdie is a nickname for Elizabeth or another B name, but Birdie is also clearly borrowed from the natural world.
48. OCEAN (#759)
First came River, then came Ocean. In French-speaking countries, Océane – or Marie-Océane – caught on in the late 1990s. But in American English, Ocean is a fresh new find.
47. PEARL (#756)
Quiet and conservative, Pearl is the kind of straightforward name that is nicely familiar, but not too common.
46. CLOVER (#755)
An auspicious meaning combined with a vibrant sound.
45. LAUREL (#706)
We love our Laura names, and Laurel is the most clearly linked to the laurel leaf wreath, long associated with triumph.
44. CLEMENTINE (#558)
It’s an edible name, but one with a long history of use as a given name, too.
43. SUNNY (#552)
Like Stormi, it’s a weather name – but one that suggests a beautiful summer day.
42. AMBER (#542)
Fossilized tree resin doesn’t sound fancy, but golden Amber is a favorite for jewelry makers.
41. BRIAR (#743)
A thorny plant, Briar sounds like Bryce and Bryer and Brianna, but it also brings to mind Briar Rose of fairytale fame. That makes it just right for either gender.
40. APRIL (#530)
A month name that heralds spring and all things hopeful. April first came into use in the 1940s, but it feels traditional compared to some of the newer innovations.
39. OPAL (#525)
A shimmering gemstone less popular than Ruby, but with just as much antique charm.
38. IVORY (#518)
The tragedy: ivory comes from elephant tusks. But the word has long since developed layers of meaning beyond the original substance. It can refer to something durable, bright, and innocent. The name also benefits from musical associations, thanks to piano keys, and similarity to popular favorite Avery.
37. HOLLY (#459)
A former Top 100 pick, especially associated with winter holidays.
36. RAVEN (#409)
Raven has been around since the 1970s – long before Wren. The revival of That’s So Raven as Raven’s Home on Disney Channel may have helped remind parents of the name. That stylish middle V sound helps, too.
35. MEADOW (#406)
Long after The Sopranos ended its run, gentle nature name Meadow still brings to mind the hit series. The rise of girls’ names ending in O might boost Meadow even more today.
34. AZALEA (#404)
A flower name, Azalea makes sense on playgrounds packed with girls called Amelia and Zoe. Australian rapper Iggy Azalea pushed this name into wider use.
33. ROSEMARY (#367)
Rosemary feels decidedly vintage, a little weightier than just Rose. While it combines two classic standards for girls, Rosemary is also an herb.
32. POPPY (#338)
Another relative newcomer to the US Top 1000, bright and vibrant Poppy is following red-inspired favorites like Scarlett and Ruby straight up the popularity charts.
31. WINTER (#304)
Winter continues to climb, with spelling Wynter not too far behind. While Autumn and Summer tend to be used exclusively for our daughters, Winter feels like a possibility for our sons, too.
30. DAHLIA (#280)
There’s something dramatic and showy about this vintage nature name. The name’s meaning is doubly borrowed from the natural world. The flower is named for Swedish botanist Anders Dahl; while his surname, Dahl, means valley.
29. ROWAN (#276)
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 a popular paranormal series, The Witching Hour. The book was recently adapted for television as Mayfair Witches, putting Rowan back in the spotlight.
28. BROOKE (#269)
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 in the 1960s, but it took model-actress Brooke Shields to make it a sensation. Originally a surname for someone who lived near a brook, the extra ‘e’ has stuck. It spent nearly three decades in the US Top 100, and opened the door for so many names on this list.
27. ASPEN (#196)
It brings to mind the Colorado ski town, but Aspen is named for its trees. That makes this a place name, as well as one borrowed from the forest.
26. WREN (#184)
A small songbird, Wren is a name as brief and minimalist as the bird that inspires it. Wren might open the door for more avian-inspired choices, like Sparrow and Lark. Compound names like Wrenley and Wrenlee are also trending.
25. JASMINE (#178)
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. Spellings Jazmin and Jazmine also chart in the current US Top 1000, and modern twists like Jazlyn owe much to this nature name, too.
24. JUNE (#172)
Is June a nature name? Vintage and gentle, it’s more traditional than Summer. But June still brings to mind every bit of seaside and sunshine, picnics and green grass. It’s an easy name to love, and one that fits with other baby girl names inspired by the natural world.
23. EMBER (#160)
Another R ending name for a daughter, fiery Ember is climbing steadily in use. It’s a twenty-first century update to former chart-topper Amber. Elaborations Emberly and Emberlynn are also catching on.
22. OLIVE (#158)
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. The name inspired by the olive tree departed the US Top 1000 in the 1950s, not returning until 2007. Much credit goes to the superstar Olivia, currently the #1 name in the US. Emma Stone’s turn as Olive in 2010 teen movie Easy A helped, too. A bonus? The olive branch is a symbol of peace, lending this tailored name a rich meaning.
21. OAKLEY (#157)
Factor in Oaklee, Oakleigh, Oaklynn, and Oaklyn, and this group of tree-inspired choices might be among the hottest nature names for girls of the moment.
20. SUMMER (#153)
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 earlier in the twentieth century. 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 Bartholomew – born Robin Summer Bartholomew, back in 1951.
19. MAGNOLIA (#151)
Long and lovely Magnolia entered the Top 1000 in 2013. It’s slightly Southern, thanks to the flowers. A long list of potential nicknames, from Maggie to Nola to Lola, make it very wearable.
18. RIVER (#150)
Appearing on both the girls’ and the boys’ nature names lists, River feels like a true gender-neutral name. First 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 – the R ending helps make this word sound more name-like, too.
17. SAGE (#144)
Paige is a former favorite. So why not Sage? It brings to mind wisdom, spices, and the color green. Combined, it’s a powerful set of associations. Like several names on this list, it’s also used for baby boys. And speaking of Paige, the spelling Saige is also a Top 1000 pick, particularly for our daughters.
16. DAISY (#125)
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.
15. ROSE (#120)
Vintage and lovely, Rose once had little to do with the flower. 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, Rose is cousin to dozens of more elaborate Rose names, from Rosalie to Primrose.
14. JUNIPER (#114)
With a bright and energetic sound, Juniper has quietly moved up the list of popular nature baby names during the twenty-first century. One possible spark that tranformed Juniper from tree name to personal name? Donovan’s 1968 single “Jennifer Juniper.” In Catholic circles, Juniper is a masculine name, borrowed from the saint commonly known as Junipero Serra.
13. JADE (#88)
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 – the celebrity birth announcement sent Jade into the US Top 1000. Since then, it’s helped pave the way for names like Jada and Jayden, but it’s also found a place as a modern favorite for a daughter.
12. SKYLAR (#87)
Skylar is part phonetically-spelled Dutch surname name and part-blue skies. Skyler, Skyla, Skye, and Sky all rank in the current US Top 1000, though. That suggests that it’s the Sky- part of the name that matters to most parents in our nature name-focused moment. A well-established choice, Skylar feels like a twenty-first century staple. Skyler, in particular, trends unisex.
11. IRIS (#84)
A goddess name, a flower, a color, 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, too. Even though it’s never left the US Top 1000, Iris is 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 the rainbow, yet another connection to the natural world.
10. AUTUMN (#71)
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. With Latin roots, this season name has slowly become a mainstream favorite.
9. RUBY (#62)
Count Ruby among the most colorful of names, a sister to Scarlett and Navy. 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!
8. IVY (#42)
Take Ava, mix in a healthy dose of nature names for girls, and you’ll arrive at Ivy. It sounds 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 ecovintage camp, and yet Ivy currently ranks at its popular – ever.
7. STELLA (#40)
Stella is the Latin word for star. The meaning makes this name shine a little brighter. Among so many rhyming choices, Stella stands out. A handful of pop culture uses, like the children’s book Stellaluna emphasize the meaning and put Stella on this list of nature names for girls.
6. WILLOW (#37)
Not so long ago, Willow was a bold 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 o-ending names for girls. The willow tree is rich with symbolism, too. No surprise this gentle, but modern sounding, choice continues to climb.
5. AURORA (#31)
This name has roots in ancient myth as the goddess of the dawn. Today it refers specifically to the streaks of light that appear in the sky near both of the poles. The aurora borealis – the northern lights – are better known in the US, but there’s a similar electric phenomenon creating a display near the southern pole, too, known as the aurora australis.
4. LILY (#30)
This flower power name remains a favorite. Many more girls answer to longer Lily names, too – in fact, Lillian ranks even higher than just Lily! Lillie once reigned as the most popular spelling, but today the flower and the girl nearly always share the same spelling. Here’s a fun Lily fact: it’s possible this name evolved as a nickname for Elizabeth, and Lillian and company came later.
3. HAZEL (#27)
Gentle, vintage, and frills-free, a number of celebrity parents have embraced Hazel across the years, 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 popular. Another bonus for Hazel? Like many popular choices, it’s a color name, too.
2. VIOLET (#20)
Elegant and vintage, Violet is back in a big way today. Once considered shrinking and shy, this name now feels 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 who can turn invisible … and help save the world.
#1. LUNA (#10)
The Latin and Spanish word for moon, Luna is a night sky sensation. Harry Potter put this name back on parents’ radar, but it has long since left the Wizarding World behind. Today Luna is a brief, complete choice that shines through the darkness, a nature name rich with style and meaning. It’s a Top Ten favorite in the US, the most popular nature names for girls, and perhaps a future #1 in both categories.
While this name is far more traditional – and popular – for our sons, summery August has potential for a daughter, too. After all, Summer and June rank much higher on this list.
Marigold is a modern botanical borrowing, but it’s so much more. Long ago, the flower was called Mary’s Gold – a religious reference, eventually smooshed together into a single word. Nicknames like Mari/Mary and Goldie make this name even more flexible. It’s appealing vintage in style, even if it’s more popular than ever in the 2020s.
Originally a Robert nickname, Robin caught on for girls in the 1930s, peaking in the 1960s. But if it hadn’t been so popular then, this bird name would be right up there with Wren and Raven today. It might still make an early comeback.
SOL (#837), SOLEIL (#990)
The Spanish and French words for sun might be a little more under the radar than Luna and Stella. But only a little. It’s also worth noting that the traditional Marisol is sometimes re-interpreted as a smoosh of the phrase mar y sol – sea and sun.
What are your favorite nature names for girls?
Originally published on October 6, 2017, this post was revised substantially and re-posted on April 22, 2019; July 21, 2022; and August 29, 2023.