11 unique baby names inspired by the redwoods

For nature-loving parents, cool baby names really do grow on trees

A small boy runs down a sunlit trail between giant sequoia tree trunks.
Raising a little outdoors enthusiast starts with a nature-inspired name. Photo by Maygutyak, Adobe Stock.

Around the League office, a baby on the way is exciting news. So when our land stewardship manager, Anthony Castaños, announced that he and his wife were expecting a wee one, the staff was a-twitter. Should we knit a tiny field vest? What’s the perfect redwoods park for a romantic babymoon? And most importantly, which redwoods-inspired baby name will the new parents choose?

Admittedly, nobody has actually agreed to bestow a tree-themed moniker upon their firstborn. But like pre-packing a suitcase for the hospital, it never hurts to have some great baby names at the ready. Because let’s face it: Redwoods-inspired names combine beauty and meaning with trend-defying uniqueness. They sound, well, natural—yet you won’t hear them every afternoon at the playground.

So for Anthony and his wife—and all other expecting parents who love the redwood forest—here are some of our top baby name picks:

Mother holding a little girl as she hikes through the forest
Photo by tunedin, Adobe Stock.

Sequoia

A clear choice for redwood fans, this noble name celebrates both the coast redwood (sequoia sempervirens) and the giant sequoia (sequoiadendron giganteum). According to popular lore, the tree name honors Sequoyah, the Cherokee scholar who first set the Cherokee language into written form. Whichever spelling you choose, this baby name, like the redwoods, has staying power.

Duff

The era of Biff and Buffy may have passed, but that leaves the door wide open for this nature-oriented update. Duff is the soft, tawny-colored organic matter that blankets the redwood understory. It’s what gives the forest floor its trademark springiness and sound-dampening hush. With a name like Duff or Duffy, your child is sure to be a calming, resilient presence. Bonus: It’s also the name of Homer Simpson’s favorite beer.

Conifer

Don’t wait for a celebrity couple to popularize this evergreen baby name. The time is ripe for Conifer, which updates the three-syllable stylings of Jennifer and Christopher, both chart toppers in their heyday. The suffix “-ifer” means “bearing,” and conifers are trees that bear their seeds in cones. Founding members of this impressive group include pines, firs, cedars, junipers, and, yes, redwoods.

Giant sequoia seed cones hang from a branchA giant sequoia’s seed cones grant it entry into the conifer club. Photo by Peter Kerr.

Tannin

You love hiking in the redwoods but your spouse prefers wine-tasting? Tannin is the perfect crossover name. Tannins are naturally occurring compounds in redwood bark that protect against insects, fungus, and fire—and lend redwoods their trademark russet hue. Tannins are also what give red wine its dry, mouth-puckering astringency. A baby named Tannin is sure to be a protective type with a dry wit.

Arcata

Move over Brooklyn, London, and Savannah. The new place name for newborns is here: Arcata. This quirky coastal community in Northern California is the beating heart of redwoods country, home to hippies, outdoorsy types, and forestry students from Cal Poly Humboldt. Idealistic and bohemian, Arcata is the perfect choice for treehugger parents looking to raise a free spirit.

A log lines the left side of a path leading into a dramatic redwood forest
Your offspring will love hiking the redwood-lined trails of the Arcata Community Forest. Flickr photo by Igor Krivokon.

Murrelet

Mais oui, what a lovely French-sounding name. Your baby will fit right in with the Collettes and Juliettes at daycare, but with the extra specialness of being named after a mysterious seabird, the marbled murrelet. Gentle murrelets spend most of their lives on the ocean but nest atop the mossy branches of old-growth redwoods. Early loggers called these birds “fog larks”—a poetic nickname that only adds to the Murrelet mystique.

Fern

If redwoods had an official fan club, ferns would be the president, secretary, and treasurer. These plants simply can’t get enough of the misty coast redwood forests, flourishing along stream beds, atop fallen logs—even high in the canopy. As a baby name, Fern combines grounded earthiness with the hopefulness of green fronds unfurling in spring. Bonus: It’s the name of the big-hearted little girl in Charlotte’s Web.

Researchers found that western swordferns from the center of the north-south redwood range had the highest capacity for foliar uptake, or water absorption through leaves. Photo by photogjim2
A western sword fern glows in its happy place at the foot of a redwood tree. Flickr photo by photogjim2.

Hyperion

What do you name the tallest tree on the planet, a 380-foot bad boy that towers god-like over the rest of Redwood National Park? You call it Hyperion. In Greek mythology, Hyperion was one of the Titans—the god of heavenly light, watching from above. As a moniker, it’s unconventional and ambitious. If you’re an eccentric tech mogul, this baby name is for you.

Dawn

Of the three redwood species, dawn redwoods stand out as the only deciduous member of the family. In autumn, their foliage turns a vibrant coppery-orange, making Dawn an excellent name for a wee ginger. The name also works well with Chinese ancestry: Dawn redwoods were presumed to exist only in the fossil record, until a Chinese forester discovered them growing in Sichuan province in the 1940s. If your pregnancy is likewise a “happy surprise,” Dawn may be the name for you.

Coppery orange foliage of the dawn redwood tree.
A deciduous dawn redwood shows off its show-stopping fall colors. Flickr photo by Lotus Johnson.

Sierra

Sierra possesses strong-yet-beautiful moxie, making it one of the more popular names on our list (according to the Social Security Administration’s database of baby names). It means “mountain range” in Spanish, from the Latin word serra or “saw,” as in serrated. Sierra is a stately choice for fans of the giant sequoias, whose natural range is confined to the westward-facing slopes of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains.

Burl

This vintage name—think Burl Ives of “White Christmas” fame—is overdue for a dust off. Burl means “knotted wood” and refers to the fascinating gnarled growths that give ancient redwoods such character. Cool fact: A burl is composed of unsprouted bud tissue and can produce a new tree with the exact same DNA as its parent. Burl signifies resilience and future potential—perfect qualities to ascribe to any newborn.

A young woman looks up at the trunk of a redwood tree, which is covered in knobby burls
Appreciating the untold potential of burls. Photo by Save the Redwoods League.

About the author

Kristina Malsberger works to enliven the conversation around conservation as the Writer/Storyteller & Editor at Save the Redwoods League.

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3 Responses to “11 unique baby names inspired by the redwoods”

  1. Adrian Fausto

    Also, Forest!

    Reply
  2. Biddy

    Sorrel needs to be on this list!

    Reply
    • Kristina Malsberger

      Agreed. Stay tuned for “Redwood-Inspired Baby Names, Part II” … and keep the suggestions coming. Thanks!

      Reply

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