Unusual Nature Names: Ever hear of Addax? Ambretta? Fen?
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.
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on August 7th, 2013 at 12:50 am
Aletris, Cassara, Ambretta, and Addax have real possibilities. Particularly Aletris — I really like this one.
on August 7th, 2013 at 6:30 am
Great article! I always love seeing new ideas!
on August 7th, 2013 at 6:38 am
Fen is the name of a female character in a book I’m reading, however, I think it would work better as a boy’s name also.
on August 7th, 2013 at 10:58 am
I don’t like most of these, but Fen is awesome!
on August 7th, 2013 at 11:01 am
Some gems in your blog, Dantea! I like these nature names.
Aletris (it’s more girly for me because it reminds me of Artemis)
Ambretta (a frilly version of Amber?)
Cassara (I love -Cass names!)
Elaenia (somewhat fairy-like and ethereal)
Fen (very English to me)
Vireo (I love boys names ending in “o”)
Zeren (just sounds like a boys name. Has the trendy “n” ending too!)
on August 7th, 2013 at 12:00 pm
I really like Addax. I just do not like that it sounds so close to “addicts”. If not for that, it would definitely go on my boys’ list
on August 7th, 2013 at 12:11 pm
Those are really weird for me, but then again I am a biologist so am familiar with most of them. Would you name your kids from tools or something you’re familiar with in your line of work? Not for me, but to each his own!
on August 7th, 2013 at 12:54 pm
I’m glad most of you like at least some of them. Isabellissima, I see your point and they’re not everyone’s cup of tea. I’m a writer planning on giving my son the middle name Quill and a daughter the middle name Saga, so I would, but I can see why it’d be weird. 🙂
on August 7th, 2013 at 1:32 pm
Impressive… all potential choices for a brave family. Elaenia and Cassara are beautiful.
Is Addax pronounced ah-DAX or AE-dax?
on August 7th, 2013 at 1:48 pm
Addax is pronounced how it looks ad-ax (like the words add and ax).
on August 7th, 2013 at 2:45 pm
These are cool. Thanks for the new ideas! My favorites are Vireo (I’m a bird fan, and this has a great sound) and Chrysalis (too “weird” for a first name, to my personal taste, but I think it would make a wonderful middle), but it was Fen that really led me to open the post. I hadn’t really thought of it as a person’s name, but Marguerite Henry’s books go way back into my childhood. As a six- or seven-year-old I could quote whole passages from her Newbery Medal-winner, “King of the Wind,” the story of the Godolphin Arabian, one of the founders of the Thoroughbred breed. At one point in the story, the horse and the boy who cares for him are banished to Wicken Fen, in England, for humiliating the Earl of Godolphin, and even as a small child there was a magic for me in the very name, “Wicken Fen.” Using Fen as a name would bring back those memories.
on August 7th, 2013 at 3:14 pm
I like Zeren! 🙂 I think it could work either way, too. Sorta like the name Darren for a boy, or like the Seren (as you said) or Lauren for a girl.
on August 7th, 2013 at 3:17 pm
Great article! Love Fen (for a boy) and Embelia.
on August 7th, 2013 at 4:11 pm
How are Elaenia & Odonata pronounced? I’m not sure I’ve got it right
on August 7th, 2013 at 7:20 pm
How is Vireo pronounced? I’m hoping not like Stereo. Looks like it could be pronounced with emphasis on the Reo part.
on August 7th, 2013 at 7:20 pm
on August 7th, 2013 at 7:23 pm
Vireo is pronounced to rhyme with Stereo. I love it though. Reo and Veo are awesome nickname.
on August 8th, 2013 at 1:31 am
This is one of the few blog entries where I’ve never heard of any of the names and I like all of them. The girl-sounding names are very pretty, although they just sound like creative variations of existing names (Aletris–>Alexis, Ambretta–>Amber, Elaenia–>Elaina, etc.). I LOVE Fen. I can imagine choosing it for my own child someday.
on August 8th, 2013 at 6:35 am
Oops, didn’t see “how are Elaenia an dOdanata pronounced.” Theyre pronounced ee-lay-nee-ah and oh-da-nah-tah
KiwiMarie, I’m glad you like it so much. ^_^
on August 8th, 2013 at 9:07 am
Oh, they are all beautiful! Aletris is so pretty, probably my favorite for girls. It remindes me of Elletra slightly, but even more obscure and not ill-fated. I guess I love Addax for a boy most – manly but romantic, a bit similar to Adam and fun nicknames. (Funny fact: the word “fen” means “hairdryer” in Russian but works nicely here as a name, I like it.)
Thank you so much for the blog, Dantea, it’s very interesting. Your ideas are fresh, unusual but do-able and attractive.
on August 8th, 2013 at 3:40 pm
@ashlie I took an Ornithology class, and we learned about the different birds with the name vireo (ex: Gray Vireo). In my class the professor did NOT pronounce vireo like stereo. It is pronounced more like veer – ee- o.
I like it! They also have beautiful bird songs. 🙂
on August 8th, 2013 at 4:20 pm
I really like Ambretta! It’s pretty, and more unique than a flower name like “Lily” or “Rose” Plus the Bretta sound goes nicely with my B last name without being really match-y.
on August 9th, 2013 at 7:00 am
@lostkt — I got my pronunciation from miriam webster’s website, but I’m sure that one’s equally correct if it’s coming from an expert. I do not claim to be an expert on birds 😛
on October 19th, 2013 at 1:19 pm
I love nature names and am glad I found this! Ambretta and Cassara are my personal favorites (for girls).
on November 20th, 2016 at 7:40 pm
…the alternate name for a tapioca plant is cassava. I couldn’t find cassara mentioned anywhere.
on October 16th, 2017 at 5:15 pm
“Fenn” has been my short name which has carried into my 50’s. Sharing the name “Ferdinand” w/ my Dad, Fenn took the place of his use of the name “Ferd”. Even though he’s passed, I still don’t feel like “Ferd” or using my full name amongst family or friends…
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