Unusual Nature Names: Ever hear of Addax? Ambretta? Fen?

August 6, 2013 Dantea

By Angel Thomas, aka Dantea

Perusing through the Nameberry database, it occurred to me that all the nature names are pretty straightforward, normal names. So, in my never-ending search for unheard of names, I discovered these nature names that aren’t to be found there that I think are ripe for the picking. Since they’re nature names, I won’t separate them into gender categories since technically, all nature names should be unisex, but I will express my preference.

Aletris – Otherwise known as Colic Root, Blazing Star, Unicorn Root, and Stargrass, this is a flowering plant whose roots are used to make medicine. The flowers are tiny, delicate wide bells. The root is used for digestive problems (including colic), muscle problems, and some women use it to prevent miscarriage, though I wouldn’t recommend it without a doctor’s permission. As a name, I think it’s very cool. It sounds like it could fit into the ‘ancient name’ revival trend, or the ‘boyish names on girls’ trend as it does have a sort of masculine sound. For boys, it’s got the nickname Al and for girls there’s Allie and Lettie.

Ambretta —  Ambretta is an evergreen bearing yellow flowers. It obviously sways towards the girls, but as a nature name, there’s no reason it can’t be a boy’s name. If you do use it on a boy, it’s got Brett as a nice nickname. For girls, it could update the dated Amber.

Cassara – Cassara is another name for the plant also known as Tapioca. This is another one that sways female. For girls, it sounds like an update to Cassandra or Cassia, for boys, it resembles Cassian and Cassius. Either way, Cass is a great nickname for both boy and girl.

Chrysalis — The pupal or transformatory stage of a butterfly’s life; also the protective covering of the pupa. In other words, a cocoon. A cocoon is where the little caterpillar goes to turn into a beautiful butterfly, which is lovely imagery. I think this one is great for either gender: it doesn’t sound inherently male or female, Chris works for either gender as well, and if you use it on a girl, it’s got Alice. Queen Chrysalis is a My Little Pony character.

Embelia — A shrub from the Indies having white or pink flowers. Though, as a nature name it can go either way, I would strongly suggest using this one for a girl. It’s got that nice EM beginning that people seem to really like, Bel in the middle to go with the trendy Bell/Belle names, and the –ia ending that so many other popular girls names have. It’s got all things trendy and popular in one unheard of name.

Fen — A wetland fed by surface and/or groundwater.  I would suggest strongly using this one for a boy. It sounds similar the popular Finn, but with the additional nature connotation and  certainly doesn’t rank anywhere on the popularity list. It’s one of those names that’s wholly unique but lets your child have a normal sounding name.

Odonata — The order of insects that includes dragonflies and damselflies. Who doesn’t like dragonflies? Despite the A ending, I think it works for a boy too. It sounds foreign and exotic and has Oddie as a nickname. If you use it on a girl, Nata, Nat, Natie.

Elaenia  – A pretty Central American bird that’s a member of the flycatcher family. This one is a ‘strongly for the girls’ name. It’s got a beautiful sound and updates Elaine and Elena all at once. Again, stylish and popular El beginning, popular –ia ending, but naturey and new.

Vireo  – A beautiful American songbird. While Vi would make a great nickname for a girl, I’ll have to give this one to the boys. It’s got such a handsome, dashing sound. Reo and Veo make excellent nicknames, and it sounds like an ancient name so it fits into that trend.

Addax – A spiral-horned antelope dwelling in the Sahara desert. This one works really nicely for either gender I think. It’s got Addie for a girl and Dax for a boy, or Ax if you want to go super manly. It’s sounds old but sharp and modern too with that cool X ending.

Zeren – A light brown Mongolian gazelle. There’s that zippy Z that everyone’s loving right now. I can’t think of a reason this one couldn’t work on either sex. It sounds like girl name Seren, but that’s always sounded somewhat masculine to me. Be aware though that people might just think it’s a creative spelling of Seren.

Angel Thomas, better known on Nameberry as Dantea, is a stay-at-home mom with a passion for onomastics who writes fantasy novels in her spare time. Her knowledge of Greek names stems from her ancestry and her religion. 


About the author


Angel Thomas, better known on Nameberry as Dantea, is a stay-at-home mom with a passion for onomastics who writes fantasy novels in her spare time. Her knowledge of Greek names stems from her ancestry and her religion.

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