Tree Names: Cool Arbor Day options from Acacia to Willow

Since roughly 1872, when the first Arbor Day was proclaimed, kindergarteners have been cutting out construction paper silhouettes of oak and pine trees and perhaps getting to plant a tiny sapling in the schoolyard. Nameberry hereby joins in today’s celebration by planting the seeds of the tree names worthy of bestowing on our children –ranging from the sturdy Cedar to the delicate Aspen.


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Apart from its arboreal appeal, Ash has a certain seductive Southern charm, à la Ashley Wilkes, while in the modern world, your little boy might prize Ash as the name of a hero of the Pokemon cartoons and a few video games. And you can always elongate it to Asher or Ashton to get to Ash as a nickname—but, at this point, do leave Ashley to the girls.

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30 Responses to “Tree Names: Cool Arbor Day options from Acacia to Willow”

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tessa Says:

April 27th, 2012 at 2:09 am

I’m curious – why leave Ashley to the girls? I know probably as many male Ashleys as female and think it’s a great name for a boy, while I find it a bit uninspired for a girl.

svea Says:

April 27th, 2012 at 2:34 am

I love this post! So many great names, and beautiful pictures. I like so may of these: Willow, Magnolia, Maple, Juniper… I really like trees, and tree names as well:)

jenjenbarnes Says:

April 27th, 2012 at 4:45 am

wow! i love so many of these names! who knew? great list!

pam Says:

April 27th, 2012 at 6:05 am

Hi Tessa — You’re right, Ashley is a bit uninspired for a girl, but given that it’s been a Top 30 name for girls for 30 years, even briefly hitting number 1, while for boys it fell off the Top 1000 nearly a decade ago, we feel in the contemporary world it’s fully crossed over to the girls’ side. Naming a boy Ashley now would be like naming him Joyce — ala Joyce Kilmer, tree-related poet and name curiosity for all schoolchildren.

missrae Says:

April 27th, 2012 at 7:24 am

I love this list, but it’s missing my favorite arboreal candidate: Rowan.

MollyKat78 Says:

April 27th, 2012 at 7:27 am

Rowan is my favorite girls name too!I just LOVE IT

thrallamanda89 Says:

April 27th, 2012 at 8:07 am

Love Cedar, Magnolia, and Maple.

Sarah.Jane Says:

April 27th, 2012 at 8:15 am

I only know male Lindens so it feels completely masculine. I actually feel like Ashley may make a male comeback. I truly hope so because it is a great name for a boy….boring for a girl.

driftergreen Says:

April 27th, 2012 at 9:18 am

Actually, whether or not you should use Ashley depends entirely on where you live. Ashley is ranked at #178 for boys in the UK, having been given to 307 newborns in 2010, whereas it’s way down at #516 for a girl and was given to just 78 girls. I think Ashley is a fine name for a boy.

pam Says:

April 27th, 2012 at 9:21 am

Extremely interesting on Ashley in the UK — missed that statistic and thanks for sharing it. I definitely think this is a positive development but I still don’t think the US is ready for it….

Mischa Says:

April 27th, 2012 at 9:44 am

I like many nature names and there are so many inspiring name options from the tree family. For girls, Acacia, Lilac, Magnolia and Willow are quite beautiful. As a Canadian Nameberry, the name Maple holds a special place in my heart as the Maple Leaf is featured on our flag. For a boy, I think Cedar would be a fine choice.

flashy09 Says:

April 27th, 2012 at 10:05 am

I named by baby girl Maple (before Jason Bateman,lol!). I love tree names and how they are familiar yet fresh at the same time.

ksheja Says:

April 27th, 2012 at 10:05 am

Aspen is #38 in Wyoming, 85 in Utah and 91 in Idaho. Western states are often “ahead of the curve” for names.

I like Acacia for a girl and Linden, girl or boy, Ash for a boy..

I must be strange – I still like Ashley on a girl.

Whit32 Says:

April 27th, 2012 at 10:08 am

I absolutely love Cedar for a boy! It reminds me of beautiful old growth forests in the northwest. My husband unfortunately doesn’t like it, but he may let me use it for a middle name 😉

trich323 Says:

April 27th, 2012 at 10:20 am

Magnolia, nn Maggie is adorable! I hadn’t thought of Maple or Cedar before, but I like them both.

A lot of names that seem a little girly are used on boys in the south fairly often as well. I know male Ashley’s, Kelly’s, and Shannon’s, just to name a few.

SugarPlumFairy Says:

April 27th, 2012 at 10:22 am

So many gems here… I particularly love Birch, Linden & Lilac – and Rowan!

Tree names are funny for me because many surnames in my country *are* related to trees… so it wouldn’t be strange to find a Portuguese person whose surnames are “Pine Willow Pear-Tree” 🙂

alexa400 Says:

April 27th, 2012 at 10:59 am

I love Lilac, it so sweet and fragrant & Magnolia as well!

As for Ashley I think it’s ready to make a comeback for the boys. I’ve heard lots of people considering Ashley for their little boy (and these are people outside of the nameberry naming world!)

dotmyiis Says:

April 27th, 2012 at 11:12 am

Great list! I love so many tree names! I love the idea of Cypress… maybe one day it will start making lists.

edenlyla13 Says:

April 27th, 2012 at 3:03 pm

I love Acacia, Juniper, Magnolia, Lilac, Wiilow and Maple! I love this list!

anniebee Says:

April 27th, 2012 at 4:28 pm

I adore most of these names. They are so serene and sweet sounding. I particularly love Lilac, Maple, Magnolia and Juniper.

I’m still not sure why Acacia is so popular. Maybe in other countries, but am I the only one that associates the name with sloppy drunk frat boys?

I also think Aspen and Birch are too close to -ss and b-tch to be used legitimately.

vivimay Says:

April 27th, 2012 at 5:16 pm

I was going to mention Cypress! I think it would make an interesting middle name for either a boy or a girl.

miloowen Says:

April 27th, 2012 at 8:27 pm

I do love tree names as well, particularly Rowan (on a boy), Ash, Willow, Birch, and I love the idea of Cypress — what about Banyan? That might make a cool name.

I can’t imagine Linden — it just reminds me of the Nazi song.

Ash has long been a Norse name, because of the Ash-lad fairy tales. Ashley for a boy is particularly common for African American boys in the South, I’ve taught a number of Ashtons and Ashleys.

KourtneyQ Says:

April 27th, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Love quite a few of these names. I’ve heard a few of these in my neck of the woods (Idaho).
Aspen: 2 girls
Cedar: 1 girl
Linden: 1 girl
Acacia: 1 girl
Elm: Heard this used as a middle name in honor of Grandfather Elmer.

Poppy528 Says:

April 28th, 2012 at 12:44 am

I think I love almost every name on this list! Lilac, Magnolia, Willow … sigh. We have to cut down the willow tree in our back yard (and I really did cry).

Pam, no Hazel or Laurel? Thankfully no Holly or Myrtle (:

And am I the only one pronouncing Cedar as “seh-DAR”? totally changes the ethnicity but I’m into it. I love Sequoia for a boy.

NicoleM Says:

April 28th, 2012 at 8:59 am

Great list. I agree with adding Rowan (for the boys–hoping they can hold on to it!). The Rowan tree is known for its strength and my little Rowan loves to hear about the creation of the Rowan tree in Greek mythology

nat108 Says:

April 28th, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Ashley is very much a male name in the South. I think it sounds silly and dated on a girl but dashing on a boy. Maybe a male Ashley is strange in the rest of the country but not down here

wishiwereajules Says:

April 28th, 2012 at 9:31 pm

I have a friend who’s Magnolia, nn Maggie. Her parents almost named her Juniper.
Linden always will be a boys name to me… it sounds like “Landon” and Lyndon Johnson was a president.
I prefer Willa to Willow…. with the rest of my family’s accents, Willow would be pronouced Willa anyway.

yellow Says:

April 29th, 2012 at 1:10 am

Please tell me you won’t be switching to this publishing style — where we get one bit then have to click next, wait for reload, get another bit, click next, wait… I know it helps with ad impressions but that is the ONLY upside. This browsing style is so annoying for the user. I usually don’t even read whole ‘articles’ that are formatted this way, in fact I quit after Aspen on this one.

afmastro Says:

April 30th, 2012 at 5:55 am

I feel Kelly, Leslie and Tracy are ready to return to the male side, but not Ashley. I sort of wish Addison would have stayed on the male side – I like it more for a boy than girl.

Juniper has grown on me. I sort of like Aspen and Cedar too. I think both names would work on either gender.

sarahmezz Says:

April 18th, 2013 at 3:23 am

I agree, Ashley is a great boys name. Maybe in America it’s considered more girly, but surely it’s unisex enough not to warrant a “leave it to the girls” plea?

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