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Nature Names for Boys

Naming a brother for Cedar

a Name Sage post by: Abby View all Name Sage posts

Their firstborn is Cedar. Now they need another nature name that’s just as perfect for his little brother.

Lisa writes:

We have a son named Cedar, and we’re expecting another boy in September.

If it was a girl, we were considering Aurora, Juniper, or Sequoia. I know Juniper and Sequoia could be used for boys, but we are hesitant.

We’re looking for another unusual name, preferably one that has no religious connotations, references nature – we especially love plant names, is easy to spell and pronounce, and feels somewhat gender neutral.

His middle name will be my (German) surname; last name is my husband’s (Irish) surname, which is also a common first name and sometimes causes confusion.

We’ve considered Jupiter (but is it too out there?), Hawthorn/e (too surname-y?), Zephyr (too close to Cedar?), and Salix (the Latin genus for willow trees, but maybe too confusing?)

Thoughts and suggestions welcome!

The Name Sage replies:

Sticking to a theme can be tough, but when it comes to the natural world? Most families could name a dozen kiddos without running out of inspiration.

I think your current shortlist already includes a name that would make a perfect brother for Cedar. But let’s look at your maybes in a little more detail.

Zephyr and Cedar do seem awfully close. Not because they reference the outdoors, but because they’re both two-syllable, ends-with-R picks.

The shared R-ending might rule out Jupiter, too. But Jupiter strikes me as far more of a mythological choice, a brother for Atlas or Orion, not so much Cedar.

As for Salix? It works … if you don’t mind explaining the name. And probably spelling it, because it could be Sallix or Salex or maybe Salyx. I tend to agree with your sense – it crosses a line into too-obscure territory.

That leaves Hawthorn, and I think it hits the same mark as Cedar. We instantly recognize it as part of the natural world, but it still sounds name-like. It’s easy to pronounce. And while some might name a daughter Hawthorn, it leans masculine. I think that probably meets your slightly unisex definition, too. The only possible headache is explaining that your son’s name is “Hawthorn-without-the-e,” or maybe “Hawthorn like the plant, not the author.”

That seems like a minor hassle. But if I can’t talk you into Hawthorn as a first name, let’s look at some other possibilities:

Ansel – Since you’re considering less obvious nature names like Zephyr and Jupiter, would you be willing to expand your list to include artists known for capturing the outdoors? Ansel Adams is probably the best-known photographer of landscapes in the American West.

Bay Bay does double duty: not only is it a body of water, but there’s also the bay laurel. This name spiked in use for girls a few years ago, thanks to a character on an ABC Family series, Switched at Birth. But now the numbers show Bay leaning unisex. In 2018, 17 girls and 6 boys received the name. Like Cedar, it has a strong, bright sound.

Canyon – Does two C names make a pattern? Maybe, but I think Cedar and Canyon sound nicely distinct. They’re both outdoorsy picks with just a hint of ruggedness. Another bonus: 142 boys were named Cedar last year; there were 117 newborn Canyons. They’re equally unusual, but not completely out-there rare.

Heath – Back in the 1970s, Heath reached the Top 250 in the US. Credit television westerns; in the 1960s, a young Lee Majors played Heath Barkley on The Big Valley. But today the name is just inside the US Top 1000, and feels more like a brother for Meadow than a pint-sized cowboy.

Linden – Another tree name, Linden might be mistaken for Lyndon, as in the 38th US president. It sounds a little bit like Linda, too, but it’s used in slightly higher numbers for boys, so I think this meets your criteria nicely.

Ocean River and Kai are fast-rising favorites for boys. Ocean isn’t that far behind, though it remains well outside of the US Top 1000. (166 boys and 116 girls were given the name last year.)

Ridge – It’s a short, sturdy name that brings to mind mountain trails. Though perhaps it’s too common? Ridge has been inside the US Top 1000 for the last few years; in 2018, 342 boys were named Ridge, which makes it about twice as popular as Cedar.

Sorrel  – Herb names like Rosemary and Saffron tend to go to the girls, but Sorrel is so rare that it doesn’t seem especially feminine. It also refers to a reddish-brown color of a horse, so it’s another double-dip nature name.

Overall, I still find Hawthorn tough to beat. But I think Bay and Canyon also make great brother names for Cedar.

Readers, let’s have a poll with my final three suggestions. Please share your ideas in the comments, too!

Which of the Name Sage's suggestions do you like best?

  1. AHawthorn
  2. BBay
  3. CCanyon
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About the author

Abby

Abby Sandel is nameberry's Senior Editor and resident Name Sage. Look for her baby name news round-ups every Monday, and her Name Sage columns on Wednesdays. Abby is the creator of the baby name blog Appellation Mountain and mom to Alex and Clio. For a chance to have your questions answered, contact Abby at namesage@nameberry.com.
View all of Abby's articles View all Berry Juice Bloggers

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24 Responses to “Nature Names for Boys”

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gnolib Says:

May 21st, 2019 at 11:09 pm

How about:

Cedar and Garnet

Cedar and Fern

Cedar and Roux

Cedar and Cyan

Cedar and Rain

Cedar and Lunar

gnolib Says:

May 21st, 2019 at 11:11 pm

Or Rue, instead of Roux, which is far more nature oriented – I can’t seem to edit my initial post.

oftenoverseas Says:

May 21st, 2019 at 11:38 pm

I like Hawthorn but the literary angle *might* verge toward snobby. It doesn’t seem as down to earth as Cedar. What about Cypress, Douglas, Gale, Haywood, Indigo, Jasper, Kit, Peregrine, Rainier, Rowan, or Sherwood.

emmievis Says:

May 22nd, 2019 at 3:49 am

My favorite’s actually Linden.
Peregrine is also a great suggestion.
Bear, Fox, Wolf and other animal names…
Cove maybe?

Aunt_ning1 Says:

May 22nd, 2019 at 7:55 am

I am not a fan of Bay. It reminds me too much of Bae which people use as a cute nickname but you also see how in Danish it means Poop. Not a name I like the connotations of these days.

I really like Heath and Canyon as a brother for Cedar.

As far as Linden, I like it. I went to school with a guy named Linden, I don’t remember any one ever teasing him or being mistaken as the spelling of Lyndon. He is a pretty cool guy and it is a pretty awesome name.

macy13 Says:

May 22nd, 2019 at 8:18 am

I love the suggestions of Fox and Indigo from previous comments! They both sound great with Cedar! Some other suggestions I have are Basil, Pine and Spruce. Pine has actually been on my boy’s list for a while. I think it’s so strong and handsome!

mcinkat Says:

May 22nd, 2019 at 8:32 am

I think Hawthorn is perfect for you! Like Cedar, it’s familiar and easy to spell (with an obvious nature connection) without being overused. I think the spelling without the “e” makes it seem less surname-y.

(Full disclosure, I’m a bit biased since Hawthorn, no “e,” is my son’s middle name.) 🙂

Happyhare90 Says:

May 22nd, 2019 at 8:46 am

Cedar and Florian
Cedar and Colm
Cedar and Bran
Cedar and Sylvan

BluebirdBlossom Says:

May 22nd, 2019 at 9:28 am

I love Cedar! I think Fox, Indigo or Ridge are the perfect names to go with it.

dawnk Says:

May 22nd, 2019 at 9:51 am

I love the name Hawthorne (as a literary reference and as a strong male name) but I personally see it as a complete opposite style as Cedar. I know of someone who named their son Alder and it has grown on me considerably and sounds like a perfect pairing with Cedar to me.

Beau Jean Says:

May 22nd, 2019 at 12:51 pm

Indigo
Heath
Sage
Huckleberry

But I think Hawthorn is perfect

livia Says:

May 22nd, 2019 at 2:16 pm

What about Aspen? I think Aspen and Cedar sound soft, grounded and earthy together, and they share the S sound whilst being obviously distinct individually. I also like Arden for you but that nature reference is a little further removed than Aspen.

Other ideas:
Adair – means “from the oak tree” so a little more abstract in meaning but a nature name all the same – and shares sounds with Cedar.
Rowan – love this! Rowan is a quintessential actually truly unisex name and the name of a tree believed traditionally where I’m from to ward off evil spirits. Cedar and Rowan sound like such sweet brothers.
Spruce – Short and sweet and conjures up images of the forest on a breezy grey day.

A more out there suggestion, but I’ll mention it just in case – you like Salix as a reference to willow trees. How about just Willow? Obviously it’s rather popular for girls but I’ve always really liked the idea of it on a boy and there’s nothing inherently about the name (sound or meaning) that screams particularly feminine. You could call him Will for short, even, and it has the stylish -o sound ending.

MissTrash Says:

May 22nd, 2019 at 4:12 pm

I like Lake or Laken with Cedar.

Or how about…

Cedar and Bodhi
Cedar and Oakley
Cedar and Ash / Asher
Cedar and Cypress

BluebirdBlossom Says:

May 22nd, 2019 at 5:00 pm

How about Arbor? It just means “tree,” and Arbor Day is a holiday that encourages people to plant trees. Cedar is obviously a tree….they totally compliment each other.. I like Cedar and Arbor together.

svea Says:

May 23rd, 2019 at 9:23 am

I like Cedar & Aspen (my first thought, they both sound like cool dudes!)

Other thoughts/suggestions I like:
Cedar & Wilder
Cedar & Fox
Cedar & Ridge
Cedar & Canyon
Cedar & Eden
Cedar & Brooks
Cedar & Linton
Cedar & Lake
Cedar & Prairie

CanadianSunflower Says:

May 23rd, 2019 at 9:25 am

I’m disappointed that one of my favorite nature names didn’t make the list: Aspen.

Karbear Says:

May 23rd, 2019 at 3:03 pm

I seriously wish we could vote for an “other” name. I really like Salix so I’m not sure why nobody else does, it’s short/ easy to pronounce and has a meaning you like. The fact that you can spell it different ways means nothing because that is how it is with all names now. That being said I also love Heath and Cove as well

Kjh446 Says:

May 25th, 2019 at 2:47 am

Cedar & Alder

Cedar & Afon

Cedar & Indigo

Cedar & Dakota

Cedar & Vega

Cedar & Denver

Cedar & Wren

Cedar & Orion

Cedar & Reed

jessiemay Says:

May 25th, 2019 at 9:24 am

Fox would make an amazing brother name for Cedar. It’s my top boy name so I’m a bit biased, but to me they have a similar hipster, strong yet soft feel to them. Some other ideas…
Oaken, Cove, Everest, Griffin, Reef, Summit, Fields, Wolf, Forest, Aspen, Ocean, Finch, Rowan, Falcon, Woods, Phoenix, Sol, Briar, Alder, Cypress, Acre, Tide, Ochre, Sunny xx

tabitha Says:

May 26th, 2019 at 4:55 am

Cedar and Silas “wood, forest”
Cedar and Lennox “grove of elm trees”
Cedar and Carrick “rock”
Cedar and Darragh “oak tree”
Cedar and Hedley “heather field”

Good luck ❤

lalala__lauren Says:

May 30th, 2019 at 8:20 am

Hawthorn gets my vote, but I do also like Bay. I don’t like Ridge as a name in general, but also it makes it sound like their names are one phrase: cedar ridge. LW might even say it like that if calling for the kids to come eat dinner or something. “Cedar! Ridge!” It’s just a hard no from me. Birch could be another good choice.

NothingPenguin Says:

June 2nd, 2019 at 8:05 am

I love Hawthorn but how about Sage? Its an herb and whilst not super unique you definitely don’t hear it all the time! plus its easy to spell and pronounce and sounds good with Ceder.

r13martin Says:

June 6th, 2019 at 11:43 am

Ridge was actually my favorite suggestion, that and Canyon. The hard part is that Cedar Ridge and Cedar Canyon are both names of actual places. If you were to have more children it might narrow down your name options even more. I knew of a man named Pine, which definitely is sticking with the nature/tree theme.

Adamsmad06 Says:

June 18th, 2019 at 10:22 am

I also like the above suggestions of Aspen. I love Linden, but I think it leans more feminine.

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