Name Inspiration: The Forest and the Trees

It’s no secret that parents have recently embraced nature names, especially flower names. Beyond flower names are the names from the forest and the trees. Recently we featured bird themed names. Since many birds make trees and the forest their home, naturally forest and tree names should get their day.

Additionally, two notable people recently bestowed a forest themed name on their daughter: Jason Bateman and Amanda Anka’s second daughter, Maple Sylvie, has two forest inspired names. Could the actor and his wife be trendsetters?

These names sure have selling points. They are suitable on both genders, unlike flower names, which are historically reserved for girls. They also have a surprise element that flower names lack, but don’t seem as far-fetched as fruit names (e.g. Apple and Strawberry).

As for the meaning behind Maple Sylvie, most people know Maple is the tree, the wood from the tree, the syrup from the tree and the flavor of that syrup. Maple does not see much use as a given name, but considering the beauty of maple leaves and the sweetness of the syrup, Maple makes sense as a girl’s name.

Maple is more than just surgery-sweet, however. The wood from the tree is very strong, offsetting the syrupy image. Upon inspection, Maple makes a great statement: sweet, but sturdy and resilient.

Sylvie’s woodsy origins are less obvious. Sylvie is the French form of Silvia, the feminine form of Silvius, derived from the Latin “silva” meaning “wood forest.” Rhea Silva was the mother of Romulus and Remus (one of the us-enders) the founders of Rome. The Italian variation, Silvio makes a great alternative to Italian hits Luca and Nico.

One of my favorite combos is Silvia Fern, a less off-beat forest inspired combo, perhaps more suitable for a non-celeb baby.

Here are some more forest inspired names, ranging from the conservative to the adventurous. Since many of the forest-y connections are subtle, often explanations are given. Girl names are coded pink, boy names are coded blue and unisex are coded green.

AcaciaGreek name of a flowering shrub
ArvidOld Norse for “Eagle Tree”. #21 in Sweden
BjorkThe singer’s name is Icelandic for “birch tree”
Dara One meaning is from the Irish Mac Dara, meaning “oak tree”. #71 in Ireland and #91 in Northern Ireland
ElwoodEnglish surname derived from a place name meaning “elder tree forest”
HadassahHebrew for “myrtle tree”
JavorSouth Slavic for “maple tree”
Jelena / JelaCroatian for “fir tree”
KieferGerman surname meaning “pine tree” (or “barrel maker”)
LinaArabic for “palm tree”
LindenGerman surname derived from Linde meaning “lime tree” #88 in BC Canada
LyndonEnglish surname derived from place-name meaning “lime tree hill”
MeliaGreek for “ash tree” #421 in France
MyrtleAnother word for the evergreen shrub
PerrySurname derived from Middle English for “pear tree”
NashSurname derived from Middle English phrase “at the ash tree”
Silvia / Sylvia / SylvieOrigins aforementioned
Silvius / SilvioMasculine versions of Silvia / Sylvia / Sylvie
TomerHebrew for “palm tree”
VidarOld Norse possibly for “forest warrior” #80 in Sweden

These have come up recently in the blogosphere: Ash, Hazel, Hollis, Juniper, Kiefer, Laurel, Silvia, and Willow. While these are surprisingly under the radar:  Acacia, Aspen, Cedar, Forrest, Fern, Lina, Linden, Melia, Perry, and Vidar.

Readers: Which forest and tree names are your favorites? (Multiple votes are allowed.)

Photo credit: Leaves / Japanese Garden


  1. Many of these are great, I especially love these:

    Cedar-like for a boy
    Myrtle – I think she deserves a comeback
    Oak-like this for a boy
    Tomer-nice alternative to Thomas or Homer

  2. I’m a huge fan of the nature name trend, so I like the thought of nearly all of these being used. I do like Ash and Nash for boys.

    Oddly, I recently saw a baby boy named Elwood, thought it was a kind of old-fashioned name for a baby – and now I’ve seen it on both your blog and at Mer de Noms in the past fortnight! Hmm, maybe it’s more hip than I thought ….

    • I sort of like Elwood, except it lends itself to the nickname Woody, which I’m not fond of. My father-in-law wanted to name my husband Brentwood and call him Woody. Luckily, my mother-in-law put her foot down and my husband was named after his great grandfather. My FIL was big on Woody for some reason. For me it brings up Woody Harrelson and Woody Allen, neither impress me much. My husband was relieved not to end up as Woody because he thinks it has a suggestive meaning and didn’t want to go through high school going by “Woody”.

      But if I did like Woody, I would rather use Elwood than Brentwood – also a gritty town in California. Maybe Woody can be avoided, and a guy can be just Elwood. On its own, I can picture Elwood on a guy and I think it’s oddly cool.

      • Woody reminds me of Woody Woodpecker – it seems annoying, just like the cartoon bird!!!

        For some reason, Elwood sounds totally 50s diner to me, which is sounding pretty cool now.

        Elwood is a place name here as well, and also a clothing company.

      • Someone Actually Named Laurel says:

        Nobody remembers Elwood Blues? He was one of the Blues Brothers. 🙂

  3. Where is Grover? It’s one of my favorites.

  4. I have a tree name myself (Ebony) and I think maybe using Melia, Willow, Juniper or Fern as a middle name would be an unusual way of honouring myself

  5. Leanne Martin says:

    The name Jasper is missing!

  6. Josiah Settles says:

    Also Douglas, while it means ‘dark river’, it could kinda be considered a tree name because of the Douglas Fir.
    Also Ponderosa might make a good middle name.


  1. […] Perry is a recent discovery that has stayed on my mind. My most recent run-in with Perry was as one of Waltzing More than Matilda’s Old School Names from the Bonds Baby Search. Since Perry never left my mind, I sensed it deserved recognition. When I learned Perry originates from “pear tree”, it had to be one of our “Forest and Tree” names. […]

  2. […] Parents could love it or hate it. The similar Elwood got a lot of attention as one of our forest and tree names and was recently featured by Appellation Mountain and got mostly positive reactions for being […]

  3. […] magical sort of name. I saw this at Mer de Noms and in a birth announcement, then it was covered by Upswing Baby Names, and then at Appellation Mountain. Perhaps because of the Blues Brothers, this name is seemingly […]

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