From redwoods and weeping willows to cherry blossoms and regular ol’ oaks, trees command respect. They’re enduring, symbolic, undeniably attractive.
Poet Joyce Kilmer wrote I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree … and it is easy to understand what he meant. Little of human creation rivals the natural world.
So let’s take a look at some of the many tree names that might be exactly right for your child’s name – from the stylish and well-known, to the surprising, but still wearable.
TOP 1000 TREE NAMES
Aspen – Aspen brings to mind skiing, not trees. But of course, it was an abundance of aspen trees that gave the Colorado town its name. Tailored, outdoorsy Aspen fits right in with our interest in nature names nowadays, a frills-free choice that’s been gaining for girls since the 1990s.
Hazel – A Top 100 staple from the 1890s into the 1930s, Hazel made her comeback right on time. Julia Roberts welcomed daughter Hazel in 2004, and John Kraskinski and Emily Blunt chose the name in early 2014. Factor in YA smash hit novel The Fault in Our Stars, and Hazel is flourishing.
Holly – Holly’s heyday was in the 1970s and 80s. Farther back, Holly saw occasional use for boys. Today it feels like a mainstream choice for a daughter, one born around the winter holidays, maybe, or just for parents channeling the glamour of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Juniper – Is Juniper a tree or a bush? Yes. Some are tall trees, while others are rather shrubby. Juniper is Jennifer’s daughter, boosted by our affection for oo names – June and Juno are also quite stylish.
Laurel – A nature name spin on the classic Laura and former favorite Lauren, Laurel combines a familiar, traditional sound with an unexpected -el ending. Laurel wreaths were given out as awards in the ancient world, lending this name a certain boldness.
Magnolia – It reads more like Lily or Rose, but magnolias do grow on trees.
Olive – Edible Olive feels a little like Apple, but of course olives grow on olive trees, in the Mediterranean and surrounding areas. Like Hazel, this name has been boosted by some high profile birth announcements – Isla Fischer and Sacha Barron Cohen have an Olive. So does Drew Barrymore. With Olivia a long-time favorite, the tailored Olive feels like a logical successor.
Rowan – Anne Rice gave this name to the central figure in her 1990 novel The Witching Hour. Rice’s Rowan was a woman, but this name has become nicely gender neutral – slightly more popular for boys, but common enough for girls, too.
Willow – A television witch and a Pinkett-Smith put this tree name on the map. Willow entered the US Top 100 in 2016, and continues to climb.
RISING TREE NAMES
Alder – With -r ending names for boys on the rise, no surprise that Alder is seeing some use. Alder feels more modern than vintage picks like Alfred and Albert. There’s also Adler, but that takes us from trees to eagles.
Ash – You might think of Pokemon protagonist Ash Ketchum. But that’s not a bad association. More clearly masculine than Ashley and a nature name, too.
Cedar – A tree name that feels familiar and unexpected at once, Cedar is gaining for boys and girls alike.
Elowen – This Cornish word name is only worn by handful of girls in the US. But it shares sounds with Eloise and Elodie, and the tailored -en ending appeals, too.
Koa – The downside is that plenty of people will mishear this name as Top Ten favorite Noah. Instead, Koa trees grow in Hawaii. The meaning – given as strong, brave, and warrior – is another bonus.
Linden – Spell it Lyndon, and this becomes a presidential pick, as in LBJ. But Linden is a tree, and it works for both genders. For girls, it is a successor to Linda, the equivalent of Laura-Lauren. For boys, it is yet another ends-with-n possibility – but one that’s far less common than many.
Maple – Maple sounds like Mabel, but feels like a nod to Canadian heritage. Or maybe Maple is just another word that sounds like it ought to be a given name.
Oak – Oakley is more popular, but if Ash makes the list, why not mighty Oak?
RARE TREE NAMES TO CONSIDER
Acacia – Like Koa, this one doesn’t immediately scream tree! But with choices like Amelia and Sophia so stylish, wouldn’t Acacia fit right in with other ends-in-ia names for girls?
Elm – Fellow name blogger Swistle helped a couple with a daughter named Elm Elizabeth. They had a great story for their very unusual choice.
Hawthorn – Hawberry and Whitethorn are non-starters, but how ’bout Hawthorn? The tree makes it a nature name, but it also reads as a literary one, thanks to the accomplishments of Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Myrtle – A generation of Harry Potter fans know that Moaning Myrtle haunts Hogwarts. But is this name really so different from Hazel? It might be an appealing alternative.
Sequoia – A tree name, yes, but also an admirable Native American hero name, one that remains wearable for a son despite his -ia ending. He leans westward, and stands tall.
Spruce – A tree name, one that’s seasonal and rather spiffy.
ALMOST TREE NAMES
Arbor – The Latin word for tree, Arbor also refers to a leafy, shaded spot in a garden. It substitutes nicely for Harper.
Bay – There is such a thing as a bay laurel, and it is a tree – especially in California, where it was a food source for Native Americans. Bay says “body of water” to most, or maybe “spice for cooking.” But regardless of your association, Bay is an undeniable nature name, and thanks to ABC Family’s Switched at Birth, Bay enjoyed a slightly uptick in use.
Conifer – It sounds like a name, in the key of Christopher and Jennifer. Conifer refers to any cone-producing plant. Rare, but not unreasonable.
Ebony – Ebony feels more like a color name than a tree name, possibly because it’s often heard in reference to the wood, rather than the trees that produce it.
Evergreen – Part-nature name, part-virtue, Evergreen might be too much as a first, but it feels perfect as a middle.
Leaf – Before you say no way, consider this: Scandinavian heritage pick Leif is often pronounced just like leaf in the US. And Leif is having a decent run in the US, hovering just outside the Top 1000. Leaf was also the birth name of Joaquin Phoenix, and a handful of other boys in recent years.
Forrest – What other name could wrap up a post about tree names?
What are your favorite tree names? What’s missing from this list?
First published on April 14, 2014, this post was updated on June 8, 2020.