Botanical Baby Names
Recently one of the members of the HPH Facebook group started a great conversation about plant-inspired baby names - we enjoyed it so much we decided to collect a few and share them here. Okay, it's more than a few, but there are a lot of very cool plant and nature-inspired names out there, so have a peek at our list and tell us if we missed your favorite!
Ainsley: A name with English and Scottish roots, Ainsley was originally a surname derived from words like anne (solitary) and leah (woodland or clearing).
Alder: This English name comes from the alder tree of the birch family, commonly found across most of Europe, Russia, and into Siberia. You can spot it easily due to the purple sheen on the leaves during spring and the white-spotted grey bark. In Celtic mythology, the alder tree is associated with the god Bran.
Alyssum: Sweet alyssum is a ground cover plant that produces abundant flowers in white, pink, purple, or yellow.
Amaranth: From the Greek word for “unfading,” Amaranth are grain-producing plants that have flowers and foliage in a range of colors from reds and purples to golds and greens.
Ameretat: This name comes from Avestan, an Indo-Iranian language used to write the scriptures of Zoroastrianism. Ameretat is the Zoroastrian goddess of plants and long life.
Ash: The common English name for the ash tree derives from the Old English æsc, which means “spear.” If you’re looking for something a little softer, Ashley means “ash tree clearing.”
Aspen: Not just a posh ski resort, Aspen is the common name of a species of deciduous trees that are native to colder regions. It comes from the Old English æspe.
Aster: From the Greek ἀστήρ meaning “star,” the aster is a daisy-like flower common to Europe and Asia.
Azalea: The Azalea plant takes its name from the Greek αζαλεος, or “dry.” Native to Asia, Europe, and North America, their spring blooms can last for several weeks.
Balsam: This name refers to several species of trees that produce resin, or balsam. It derives from the Latin balsamum (“gum of the balsam tree”), as well as the Aramaic busma, the Arabic basham, and the Hebrew basam meaning “spice” or “perfume.”
Basil: While basil is a common kitchen herb, Basil has the double distinction of being plant-related and noble – it comes from the Greek word for “king.”
Bay: Bay can refer to several different types of trees. The leaves of the Sweet Bay Tree may be something you’ve used in the kitchen before. It’s possible that the source of Bay is more nautical, form the Latin baia and the French baie, meaning inlet or – you guessed it – bay.
Bentley: No, not the cars. Bentley is a surname that came from a place name and actually derives from the Old English beonet or “bent grass” and leah meaning “woodland or clearing.”
Birch/Birk: The distinctive birch tree can be silver, white, black, yellow, or grey. In Celtic mythology, the birch is thought to ward off evil and bolster courage – definitely good qualities to have! Birk is a Scandinavian variant.
Bramble: From the Old English bræmel or bremel, this name may have originally indicated that the person lived near a thicket of brambles, such as blackberry or any other thorny shrub.
Bramwell: Another surname that can cross over into given name territory, Bramwell has roots in the Old English for “broom” or “bramble well.” Literary buffs may recognize the variant Branwell, used by the only brother of the Brontë family.
Briar: This English name refers to thorny or prickly plants, such as roses or blackberries. The story of Sleeping Beauty is based on the Brothers Grimm tale in which the sleeping beauty’s name is Briar Rose.
Bryn: A bit less plant-centric and more nature-based, Bryn means “hill” or “mound” in Welsh.
Bryony: If you’ve read or seen Atonement, you may recognize this name and its variant, Briony. It comes from a climbing plant that produces greenish-white flowers.
Calendula: When Marigold just won’t do, try its scientific name. Calendula has been used for centuries in medicine and dyes, not just in our gardens.
Calla: If you love Lily, but want something just a little different, try Calla. This type of lily is native to South Africa and known for its beautiful, showy flowers. The name may also have roots in the Greek kallos meaning “beauty.”
Camellia: While it’s similar to Camille and Camilla, Camellia has an entirely different origin with a nice floral twist. This English name comes from a flowering shrub named for botanist and missionary Georg Josef Kamel.
Cedar: Like Birch, Aspen, and Ash, Cedar is a strong name that comes from a tree. In this case, Cedar is a coniferous tree native to the Mediterranean and Himalayan regions. You could even say Cedar has Biblical roots, considering the references to the cedars of Lebanon. The name derives from the Greek κεδρος (kedros).
Cerise: This delicate-sounding name is French for “cherry.”
Chloe: With roots in Greek, Chloe means “green shoot” and evokes springtime and new growth. Like Cedar, Chloe boasts a little Biblical history as well as having ties to the goddess Demeter in Greek mythology.
Chrysanta: This shortened form of the word chrysanthemum takes its meaning, “golden flower,” from the Greek.
Cicely: While Cicely, Cecily, and Cecilia all have roots in the Roman Caecilius, which means “blind,” Cicely has a plant connection as well. Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis odorata) is an herb with fern-like leaves and clusters of delicate white flowers.
Clay: Originally from an English surname that referred to a person who lived near or worked with Clay, this name seems especially suited for someone who loves to be out in the garden.
Clementine: This citrus tree is a hybrid cross of willowleaf mandarin orange and sweet orange. If that’s not sweet enough, an added bonus is the name’s relation to Clement, a name meaning “merciful” and “gentle.”
Clove: Cloves are the buds of an evergreen tree with crimson flowers, commonly used as a spice. Cloves are used in all sorts of cooking, but they may call to mind a definite autumn vibe – they’re a common ingredient in pumpkin pie spices and hot drinks when the weather cools.
Clover: This English name comes from the wild flower, derived from the Old English clafre. The four-leafed clover, of course, is a symbol of good luck and prosperity – not a bad association for a name to have!
Coleus: This flowering plant from the mint family has showy leaves in a kaleidoscope of colors.
Consus: This Roman name belonged to the god of grain and harvest, and may have been derived from the Latin conserere meaning “to sow” or “to plant.” It’s also thought that the name might come from the verb condere (“to store”) and be a reference to storing grain.
Coriander: Coriander is also known as cilantro. This name derives from the plant after it has flowered and produced seeds, whereas cilantro refers to the first stages of growth. Coriander may ultimately be of Phoenician origin (via Latin and Greek).
Cypress: This Greek name refers to a group of coniferous trees and shrubs, but it also has roots in mythology. Cyparissus, beloved of the god Apollo, had a tamed deer he loved but accidentally killed while out hunting. He was so grief-stricken that he turned into a cypress tree, which is a classical symbol of mourning.
Dahlia: This name comes from the flower which was named after Swedish botanist Anders Dahl.
Daisy: A sweet, simple classic, Daisy is derived from the Old English dægeseage meaning “eye of the day.” It was first used as a given name in the 19th century, gaining popularity along with many other plant and flower names.
Elm: While Elm could be a short form or variant for Elmer or Elmo, we like it for its reference to the elm tree.
Elowen: This recently-coined Cornish name means “elm tree.”
Fern: Like Daisy, Fern gained popularity as a given name in the 19th century. It derives from the Old English fearn.
Fleur: From the French word for flower, this name gets bonus points if you’re a Harry Potter fan as well as a gardening enthusiast!
Flora: From the Latin flos, or “flower,” Flora was the Roman goddess of flowers and springtime. It has been used as a given name since the Renaissance, and has even been used as an Anglicized form of the Celtic name Fionnuala.
Florence: What do a city in Italy, a famous nurse, and an English indie rock band have in common? The name Florence, derived from the Latin florens which means “prosperous” or “flourishing.”
Florian: From the Roman name Florianus, which derives from the Latin flos meaning “flower.”
Forrest: This name comes from an English surname used by people who lived near a forest. It had a brief spike in popularity when the movie Forrest Gump came out – maybe it’s time for a comeback.
Forsythia: This flowering shrub, named after British botanist William Forsyth, produces bright yellow flowers in spring. Forsyth’s surname was derived from the Gaelic Fearsithe meaning “man of peace.”
Genista: The Latin name Genista refers to a family of plants commonly called broom, native to moorland and pastures in Europe and western Asia.
Gentian: This Albanian name comes from the Illyrian king Gentius, who is alleged to have discovered the medicinal properties of the Gentian plant.
Ginger: If you’re looking for something snappy (sorry!), Ginger is it. This name calls to mind the warm, spicy bite of the ginger root. When you think of pumpkin pie, gingerbread, and gingersnap cookies, Ginger has an autumnal or wintery feel to it. It can also be a diminutive of Virginia.
Hawthorne: Originally a surname used in England and Scotland, Hawthorne indicated that someone lived near a Hawthorne bush or hedge.
Hazel: This English name come from the Old English hæsel and can refer to the tree or the light brown color. Like Daisy and other floral and nature-inspired names, it first came on the scene as a given name in the 19th century.
Heath: From the English surname given to a person who lived on a heath (a large tract of uncultivated land).
Heather: This English name has roots in the Middle English hather, and denotes a variety of small shrubs (Calluna vulgaris) that commonly grow in rocky areas and produce pink or white flowers. It was first used as a given name in the 19th century, but gained real popularity in the late 20th century.
Holly: From the Old English holen, this name refers to the holly tree, whose leaves are commonly used in Christmas decorations.
Hyacinth: This name is the English form of the Greek Hyacinthus. In Greek myth Hyacinthus was accidentally killed by Apollo, who then caused a lily to grow from Hyacinthus’ blood. In English it’s a relatively rare name.
Ilan/Ilana: Ilan (m) and Ilana (f) both mean “tree” in Hebrew.
Indigo: This name comes from the English word for the purple-blue dye or color, which comes from the plant species Indigofera, native to the tropics.
Iris: Not only is Iris a beautiful flower, it also means “rainbow” in Greek. Iris was the goddess of the rainbow who served as a messenger to the gods.
Ivy: From the Old English ifig, Ivy refers to the iconic climbing plant that produces small yellow flowers.
Jasmine: With roots in Persian (yasamen), this name refers to the climbing plant with fragrant flowers often used in perfume making.
Jessamine: A variant of Jasmine, Jessamine also refers to the flowering plant – but it’s too pretty not to have its own entry!
Juniper: Form the Latin iuniperus, juniper is a type of tree in the cypress family.
Kale: This leafy green vegetable has spiked in popularity… who’s to say it wouldn’t be an interesting name choice, too?
Koru: The Maori word for “loop.” It refers to the shape of a silver fern frond when it unfolds.
Lata: This name comes from Sanskrit and means “vine” or “creeping plant.”
Laurel: Derived from the Latin laurus, this name refers to the laurel tree also known as sweet bay.
Lavender: This name refers to both the aromatic flowering plant and the pale purple color.
Layton: Originally a surname, this name comes from a place name meaning “settlement with a leek garden” in Old English. Another variant is Leighton.
Lily: A classic! The name Lily comes from the Latin lilium and the lily flower, a symbol of purity.
Linden: Derived from the Old High German linta, this name means “linden tree.”
Madara: This Latvian name comes from a type of flowering plant. In English the herb is known as cleavers or bedstraw – we think Madara is quite a bit prettier!
Magnolia: From the flowering tree of the same name which was named for French botanist Pierre Magnol.
Maple: Derived from the Old English mapulder or “maple tree,” this solid name joins picks like Linden, Ash, and Birch.
Marganita: This Hebrew name refers to a type of flowering plant common in Israel. In English it’s called the scarlet pimpernel.
Marigold: This combination of the name Mary and the English word gold refers to the spicy-smelling plant with bright flowers. Downton Abbey fans will recognize this name!
Marwa: This name comes from the Arabic appellation of a fragrant plant you may recognize from your spice cupboard – marjoram.
Meadow: From the Old Englis mædwe, this name refers to land that is covered with grasses and other plants, but not trees. Meadow conjures up an open, sunny feel that we love!
Moss: This medieval form of the name Moses could just as easily refer to the small, dense green plants that grow in clumps or mats in shady and damp areas.
Myrtle: Derived from the Greek myrtos, Myrtle refers to the evergreen shrub with delicate, star-like white flowers. Like many floral names, it was first used as a given name in the 19th century.
Narcissus: This name from Greek mythology should be familiar – poor Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection and stared so long that he was turned into a flower. The narcissus flower is also known as the daffodil or jonquil, if the connotations of narcissus are a bit much.
Oak: The English name for the oak tree, known as the king of the forest due to its strength and long life.
Oakley: This English surname means “oak clearing” or “oak meadow,” based on the combination of oak and leah or “clearning.”
Oleander: Originally a Greek name, Oleander has a story behind it. According to legend, a woman’s lover, Leander, drowned on his way to visit her. She cried his name (“O, Leander!”) on the shore until he was found, clutching white flowers in his hands. The flowers of course, are the Oleander.
Olive: From the Latin oliva, Olive and Olivia refer to the tree. Olive trees are one of the first plants mentioned in the Bible.
Oliver: Oliver comes from Olivier, a Norman French form of Germanic names such as Alfher or Old Norse names like Áleifr. The spelling may have been altered due to association with the Latin olive for olive tree.
Orrin: This Anglicized form of the Irish Odhrán means “little pale green one,” derived from the Irish odhra for “pale green” or “sallow” and a diminutive suffix.
Parker: This English occupational surname means “keeper of the park,” and has moved into given name territory, becoming a popular unisex name.
Parsley: While Parsley as a surname derives from the Old French passelewe, or “to cross the water,” parsley is also a leafy green herb which takes its name from the Old English petesilie and the Old French peresil.
Pepper: Commonly a nickname, Pepper is starting to show up as a given name as well. Pepper is a vining plant that produces the world’s most popular spice.
Ponga: The common name of Cyathea dealbata,which is a tree fern that is found in New Zealand.
Poppy: From the Old English popæg, Poppy is a sweet floral name referring to the plant known for its brightly colored flowers. Poppy flowers have been a well-known symbol of remembrance throughout the Commonwealth since World War One.
Primrose: One of the earliest spring flowers to bloom, Primrose comes from the Latin prima rosa or “first rose.” Primrose is also a Scottish clan, and it has been suggested that their name derives from the older place-name of prenn rhos or “tree of the moor.” Either way, Primrose is a sweet choice!
Reed: From the Old English read meaning “red,” this name might have been given to a redhead, but reeds are also tall, grass-like plants native to wetlands. The reed has been important to many cultures around the world throughout history, from making paper to making boats, and even having a place in legend. A variant spelling is Reid.
Rose: Another classic, Rose likely originates from a Norman form of a Germanic name that was first introduced to Englans as Roese and Rohese, but it soon became associated with the flower called rose from the Latin rosa. Like many other floral names, Rose was very popular in the 19th century.
Rosemary: A combination of Rose and Mary, this name can also refer to the herb, which comes from the Latin ros marinus or “dew of the sea.”
Rowan: This Irish name originates from a surname, Ó Ruadháin. While Ruadh and its associated names might mean “red,” Rowan is often a reference to the rowan tree. In the British Isles the rowan tree has been believed to protect one against witchcraft or enchantment.
Rue: Derived from the Greek rhyte, rue refers to the medicinal herb. Rue also has culinary uses and is sometimes cultivated as an ornamental plant. A variant of Rue is the Lithuanian Rūta, which also happens to be the Lithuanian form of Ruth.
Rush: Originally from the Old English rysc, Rush refers to a grass-like plant that grows in marshlands.
Ruzha: In Bulgarian and Macedonian, Ruzha means “hollyhock,” a flowering plant in the mallow family.
Saffron: This rare English name is the word for a spice, its yellow-orange color, or even the crocus flower it comes from. It’s derived from the Arabic za’faran, which probably came from Persian meaning “gold leaves.”
Sage: This English name cane refer to an evergreen herb or a wise person – or both!
Sakura: This sweet Japanese name means “cherry blossom.”
Savannah: This name comes from the English word for a large, grassy plain, which itself comes from the indigenous Taino word zabana.
Sequoia: Like Ash and Oak, Sequoia refers to a tree also known as the giant redwood. These endangered trees can grow to an average height of up to 279 feet, and may have taken their name from the Latin sequi (“to follow”), although it is also alleged that they take their name from 19th century Cherokee scholar Sequoyah.
Sherwood: This English place name means “bright forest,” and according to legend is where Robin Hood and his band of outlaws made their home.
Sorrel: Sorrel may come from the Germanic sur for “sour,” and refers to a sour-tasting, spinach-type plant that you may find in your salad.
Sylvan/Sylvia: From the Latin silva or “wood, forest,” Sylvan (m) and Sylvia (f) evoke a woodsy feel.
Terra: This variant of the name Tara has taken the Latin spelling that means “land, earth.” The original Tara is an Irish place name, and of course the plantation from Gone With the Wind.
Thorne: Originally applied to a person who lived near a thorn bush, thorn was also the name of a letter in the Old English alphabet.
Timothy: This English name derives from the Greek Timotheos, meaning “to honor God.” However, Timothy grass, also known as cat’s tail, is a perennial grass native to most of Europe.
Valerian: While Valerian has roots in ancient Rome with Valerianus and Valerius, it is also the name of a flowering perennial native to Europe and Asia.
Valli: This Hindu name comes from the Dravidian for “creeping plant” or “winding plant.” Valli was the consort of Murugan.
Vernon: Originally from the Gaulish vern, meaning “alder,” Vernon became a French place name, a Norman surname, and ultimately a given name.
Vinca: From the Latin vincire meaning “to bind or fetter,” Vinca refers to flowering plants native to Europe, Northwest Africa, and southwest Asia. In English, they’d be referred to as Periwinkle.
Viola: A Shakespearean name from Twelfth Night, Viola also means “violet” in the Latin.
Violet: Stemming from the Latin viola, Violet refers to the purple flower. This name was common in Scotland before gaining popularity in England during the 19th century. The ancient Greeks considered the violet a symbol of fertility and love, and used it in love potions.
Wilder: This variant of the surname Wild might be a name for someone who is a little out of control, or just a name for someone who lives near a wild patch of land.
Willow: From the Old English welig, Willow refers to a type of tree that grows by water. Willow bark has been used as a traditional medicine that provides pain relief.
Wisteria: This flowering vine produces fragrant flowers in violet, purple, pink, or white and was named after anatomist Caspar Wistar, whose surname allegedly derives from the German Westländer, or “Westerner.”
Yarrow: This name may come from the Welsh garw meaning “rough” or from the Old English gearwe. Yarrow produces flowers that are white or pink, and was used as a medicinal herb to stop bleeding form wounds, accounting for its nicknames nosebleed plant and soldier’s woundwort.
Yvette: Both Yvette and the masculine Yves come from the Germanic Ivo; the Germanic iv means “yew.” Yew is a common name for several types of coniferous trees. Harry Potter fans might recall that Lord Voldemort’s wand was made of yew… for what that’s worth!
Zinnia: The zinnia flower was named for German botanist Johann Zinn. Related to sunflowers and daisies, the zinnia produces flowers in a variety of bright colors.