New Baby Boy Names: Inspired by Trees
By Abby Sandel
Ever think that every possible baby name has been used?
This week’s baby name news proved that it just isn’t so. English actor Jack Huston – you know him from Boardwalk Empire – and American model Shannan Click welcomed a son, Cypress Night. Cypress joins big sister Sage Lavinia.
Plenty of tree names for children are well established. For girls, Hazel, Olive, Laurel, Willow, Aspen, Holly, Juniper, and Magnolia are all in the current US Top 1000. Rowan ranks for both genders. And Forrest is a fast-rising possibility for boys.
Despite all of these popular picks, plenty of new baby names inspired by trees remain, and some of the most interesting options feel like promising choices for a son.
Here are nine of the best.
Cypress – Cypress is a nature name possibility that shares sounds with the ancient Cyrus and the oh-so-stylish Silas. It was given to just over 50 children in 2014, split almost evenly between boys and girls. The new starbaby on the block might make more parents take notice. Cypress trees were long associated with mourning, but many other meanings attach. Vincent van Gogh painted them, and the iconic “lone cypress” can be found along the rocky California coast on the famous 17-Mile Drive.
Alder – Asher is in the US Top 100, and Archer is rising fast. The similar-sounding Alder is an under-the-radar tree name and surname name that could work for a son or a daughter. Alder wood is often used to make electric guitars, turning Alder into a gentle nature name with a rock and roll sensibility. 44 boys were given the name in 2014.
Ash – Speaking of Asher, it’s the latest Ash– name to catch on in the US, following Ashley and Ashton. Just plain Ash is a tree, a cousin to the olive. But it also brings to mind Ash Ketchum, Pikachu’s trainer in the Pokemon universe, or possibly Ash Williams, of Evil Dead fame. 66 boys were named just Ash in 2014.
Elm – The rarest of the tree baby names on this list, Elm has never been given to even five children in a single year. It could be a patriotic choice, though – during the American Revolution, Boston colonists met under the Liberty Tree – a white elm – to plain their uprising. The British chopped it down, but it lives on as a symbol of independence.
Oak – It’s not just elms that are richly symbolic. Congress named the oak America’s national tree, and it’s also an official symbol of more than a dozen other nations. It’s often associated with strength and endurance. Sound-wise, short Oak is close to names like Jack and Kai. The related surname name, Oakley, has entered the US Top 1000 for girls and boys in the last few years.
Linden – This is my favorite of the tree names, a great, gender-neutral way to update Linda or Lynne, a substitute for Landon or Logan. The presidential Lyndon is a spelling variation. 69 boys and 58 girls were given the name in 2014, making it rare, but not unknown.
Koa – Koa sounds like a creative spin on Noah. It actually has more in common with Hawaiian nature name Kai. Koa is one of the most common trees in Hawaii, and the word means warrior. The tree’s wood is prized as material for canoes and surfboards. In 2014, 110 boys and 13 girls were given the name, making Koa one of the more popular of the rare tree names.
Sequoia – California’s Sequoia National Park and Forest are home to towering sequoia trees, but this is a nature name with even more significance. Botanist Stephen Endlicher gave the name to the trees in the 1840s, apparently inspired by Sequoyah, the Cherokee silversmith who invented the very first alphabet for his native tongue. In 2014, 13 boys and 66 girls were given the name. With a-ending choices like Noah, Elijah, and Luca so popular, Sequoia could be a great nature name for a son.
Hawthorn – Hawthorn is another nature name with a literary connection. The author Nathaniel Hawthorne’s surname is spelled with an ‘e’, but it comes from the family of shrubs and trees. Because they flower in the spring, they’re associated with hope. Six boys were given the name Hawthorn in 2014, plus an additional 19 Hawthornes. It’s a name that feels buttoned-down and bold at once.
Would you consider a tree baby name for your child? Do you prefer tree names for boys or girls?