Yarrow: Baby Name of the DayLooking for an under-the-radar nature name that feels modern and gentle?

Thanks to Emilee for suggesting Yarrow as our Baby Name of the Day.

Yarrow: Yellow?

Yarrow is a plant, but the names origins aren’t obvious. The plant was called gearwe in Old English. It might have something to do with the color yellow, which would have been geolwe.

Or not.

But yarrow – also known as achillea millefolium – is usually yellow, or sometimes white, or white and yellow.

While it’s quite pretty, it’s often considered a weed.

But it does have practical uses, including the ability to stanch bleeding. (An alternate name is “nosebleed plant.” Not pretty, but descriptive.)

In the Victorian language of flowers, yarrow was a cure for heartache.

It can also be made into tea.

With bold, showy botanical names like Lotus and Azalea under consideration by some families, Yarrow has a gentler appeal, more wildflower than hot house.

Yarrow: Double Nature Name

There’s a second reason this one qualifies as a nature name. In Scotland, the Yarrow Water is known for excellent salmon fishing. The name might come from a Celtic word meaning rough, describing the river’s waters.

There’s a second river by the name in Lancashire.

Yarrow: Surname Name

The Greek Destroyer 'Thyella' after being laun...

Yarrow can be a surname name for families who lived near one of the rivers, or for someone who lived near a place where the plant grew.

One of the most famous bearers of the surname was Alfred Yarrow. In 1865, he established a shipbuilding firm. From the 1860s into the early twentieth century, the shipyards built hundreds of ships for the Royal Navy. Yarrow also designed an innovative boiler. For his services to the nation, he was eventually created a baronet.

In more recent history, there’s Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary fame. Peter’s family was Ukrainian. His dad had shortened their family name from Yaroshevitz.

The current Lord Mayor of London – that’s not the same thing as Mayor of London – is investment banker Alan Yarrow.

Yarrow: As a Given Name

YarrowBNoDsquareThere should be some kids called Yarrow. Surname names commonly migrate to the first spot, and our passion for nature names has been going strong for decades.

And there are a few, but maybe not as many as you would expect:

  • In 1972, when Peter, Paul and Mary were at the height of their fame, five girls were given the name Yarrow.
  • By 1976, that number had risen to 11.
  • 1993 was the last year that five or more girls were named Yarrow. In 1993, the exact count was five.

It’s not necessarily a girls’ name, however, and Yarrow registered as a boy’s given name a few times in the 1970s, too.

Yarrow: Possibility in 2015

Today, Yarrow picks up on several key trends:

  • We’re wild about ‘o’ ending names, from classics like Margot to imports like Mateo.
  • Surname names are a huge category, for boys and girls alike.
  • The same is true of nature names, from Kai to Olive to Brooks.
  • We’re fond of high value scrabble letters, especially X and Z. Why not Y, too?

Despite all of these attributes, Yarrow remains under the radar. It could be a great opportunity for parents after a name that’s truly different, but still very wearable.

What do you think of Yarrow? Do you think it could catch on? 

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.

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What do you think?


  1. If you look up how to pronounce it, they say it is more like “Euro”….which is totally rad too. I like all ways and for a boy or girl!

  2. We named our daughter Yarrow Elizabeth because I am a gardener and love plant names. She is 21 now and has grown to appreciate her name and likes when people know that she is named after a flower.

  3. “Rhymes with tomorrow. ” Or, “You know, like the plant,” are the two things I can imagine being said a lot. But if you read it, you know what it is.
    It FEELS masculine to me. Maybe it’s the ‘yar’.
    I like this name. It’s as nature-ish as ‘Birch’ but without the possibility of accidentally swearing. It sounds easy-going, too.
    Nice post, Abby!

      1. for what it’s worth, the flower is pronounced to rhyme with the word “marrow” (sorry not a great image but I couldn’t think of another rhyme)!