Spring is here! Let’s celebrate with some flower names.
But let’s do something a little different. Instead of the same old suggestions, like Lily and Rose, let’s check out some relatively modern flower names that ultimately come from Latinized surnames (via genus names).
Here’s a list of 20. Most of these are rarely used for humans, so if you’re looking for an unexpected nature name for a baby girl, this is a good place to start.
Abelia flowers are white or pink, and usually scented. The genus Abelia is part of the honeysuckle family (Caprifoliaceae).
Abelia was named for British surgeon and naturalist Clarke Abel (1780-1826). Clarke’s version of the surname Abel is likely based on the Hebrew name Abel, meaning “breath.” An identical German surname is based on a pet form of Albrecht, made up of elements meaning “noble” and “bright.”
The baby name Abelia is currently very rare.
Allamanda flowers are typically yellow, though some are pink. The genus Allamanda is part of the dogbane family (Apocynaceae).
Allamanda was named for Swiss botanist Frédéric-Louis Allamand (1736-1803). This French surname is based on the Middle French word meaning “German.”
The baby name Allamanda is currently very rare.
Begonia flowers come in a wide range of colors: white, pink, peach, salmon, red, orange, yellow, etc. With close to 1,500 species, Begonia is the 6th-largest genus of flowering plants.
Begonia was named for French office-holder and plant collector Michel Bégon (1638-1710).
The baby name Begonia is currently very rare.
Camellia flowers are white, pink, red, and sometimes yellow. The genus Camellia is part of the Theaceae family. Leaves of the species Camellia sinensis are used to produce tea.
Camellia was named for Czech Jesuit missionary and botanist Georg Joseph Kamel (1661-1706). The surname Kamel is derived from a word meaning “camel.” Camels are not endemic to Europe, but they were commonly used on house signs in central Europe during the later Middle Ages.
The baby name Camellia is currently ranked 2,597th.
Cattleya flowers come in a range of colors: purple, orange, white, yellow, etc. The genus Cattleya is part of the orchid family (Orchidaceae).
Cattleya was named for English merchant and horticulturist William Cattley (1788-1835). The first element of the English surname Cattley is based on either Catta, a personal name, or a word meaning “(wild) cat.” The second comes from the Old English word leah, meaning “woodland; clearing.”
The baby name Cattleya is currently ranked 1,684th. It was very rare until a character named Cataleya was featured in the 2011 movie Columbiana. The character’s name was based on the genus name.
Clintonia flowers are white, red, or green-yellow. The genus Clintonia is part of the lily family (Liliaceae).
Clintonia was named for U.S. politician and botanist De Witt Clinton (1769-1828). The English surname Clinton is based on one of two different place names. One place name was derived from Old English words meaning “enclosure, fence” + “settlement,” while the other means “Glyme (river)” + “settlement.”
The baby name Clintonia is currently very rare.
Pronunciation: DAL-yah (first syllable can rhyme with “gal”, “doll,” or “dale”)
Dahlia flowers come in a wide range of colors. The genus Dahlia is part of the daisy family (Asteraceae).
Dahlia was named for Swedish botanist Anders Dahl (1751-1789). The Swedish surname Dahl is based on the Old Norse word dalr, meaning “dale, valley.”
The baby name Dahlia is currently within the top 1,000, ranked 719th.
Pronunciation: for-SĬTH-ee-ah or for-SĪTH-ee-ah (chiefly British English)
Forsythia flowers are bright yellow. The genus Forsythia is part of the olive family (Oleaceae).
Forsythia was named for Scottish botanist William Forsyth (1737-1804). The surname Forsyth is based on Fearsithe, a Gaelic personal name made up of the Gaelic words fear, meaning “man,” and sith, meaning “peace.”
The baby name Forsythia is currently very rare.
Pronunciation: FREE-zhah, FREE-zhee-ah
Fragrant freesia flowers are white, yellow, pink, red, or blue-mauve. The genus Freesia is part of the iris family (Iridaceae).
Freesia was named for German botanist and doctor Friedrich Freese (1794-1878). The German surname Freese is based on an ethnic name for someone from Friesland.
The baby name Freesia is currently very rare.
Gardenia flowers are white or pale yellow and strongly scented. The genus Gardenia is part of the coffee family (Rubiaceae).
Gardenia was named for Scottish-born American naturalist Alexander Garden (1730-1791). The English surname Garden is based on an occupational name for a gardener. It ultimately comes from the Old Norman French word gardin, meaning “garden.”
The baby name Gardenia is currently rare.
Gazania flowers are shades of yellow and orange. The genus Gazania is part of the daisy family (Asteraceae), like Dahlia.
Gazania was named for Greek humanist Theodorus Gaza (1398-1475).
The baby name Gazania is currently very rare.
Gloxinia flowers are white, pink, red, blue or purple. The genus Gloxinia is part of the Gesneriaceae family.
Gloxinia was named for German physician and botanical writer Benjamin Peter Gloxin (1765–1794).
The baby name Gloxinia is currently very rare.
Kalmia flowers are white, pink or purple. The genus Kalmia is part of the heather family (Ericaceae).
Kalmia was named for Swedish-Finnish botanist Pehr Kalm (1716-1779).
Kerria flowers are bright yellow. The genus Kerria is part of the rose family (Rosaceae).
Kerria was named for Scottish gardener and plant hunter William Kerr (d. 1814). The Scottish surname Kerr is a topographic name referring to a patch of wet ground overgrown with brushwood. It ultimately comes from the Old Norse word kjarr, meaning “copsewood, brushwood, thicket.”
The baby name Kerria is currently very rare.
Pronunciation: lō-BEEL-yah; lō-BEEL-ee-ah
Lobelia flowers are purple, pink, white or blue. The genus Lobelia is part of the bellflower family (Campanulaceae).
Lobelia was named for Flemsih botanist Matthias de L’Obel (1538-1616).
The baby name Lobelia is currently very rare.
Pronunciation: mag-NŌL-yah, mag-NŌL-ee-ah
Magnolia flowers are fragrant and come in white, pink, red, purple or yellow. Because they predate bees and butterflies, they’re typically pollinated by beetles.
The genus Magnolia was named for French botanist Pierre Magnol (1638-1715). The French surname Magnol may be based on either the Latin word magnus, meaning “great,” or on a French place name of uncertain derivation.
The baby name Magnolia is currently within the top 1,000, ranked 831st.
Monarda flowers are various shades of red, pink, and purple, and highly scented. The genus Monarda is part of the mint family (Lamiaceae).
Monarda was named for Spanish physician and botanist Nicolás Monardes (1493-1588).
The baby name Monarda is currently very rare.
Plumeria flowers (also known as frangipani) are very fragrant and come in several colors. The genus Plumeria is part of the dogbane family (Apocynaceae), like Allamanda.
Plumeria was named for French botanist Charles Plumier (1646-1704). The French surname Plumier is based on an occupational name for either a feather dresser or a plumber. The former occupational name ultimately comes from the Latin word plumarius, meaning “embroidered with feathers,” while the latter comes from the Latin word plumbum, meaning “lead.”
The baby name Plumeria is currently very rare.
Wisteria flowers are are purple, violet, pink or white, and often scented. The genus Wisteria is part of the bean family (Fabaceae).
Wisteria was named for American physician and anatomist Caspar Wistar (1761–1818). Caspar’s surname is a modified form of the German surname Wüster.
The baby name Wisteria is currently very rare.
Pronunciation: ZĬN-ee-ah, ZĬN-ya
Zinnia flowers come in a wide range of colors (red, purple, orange, buff, yellow, etc.) and shapes. The genus Zinnia is part of the daisy family (Asteraceae), like Dahlia and Gazania.
Zinnia was named for German anatomist and botanist Johann Gottfried Zinn (1727-1759). The German/Jewish surname Zinn is based on an occupational name for a pewter worker or tinsmith. It ultimately comes from the Germanic word zin, meaning “tin, pewter.”
The baby name Zinnia is currently ranked 2,136th.
What other surname-derived flower names would you add to this list?
Source: Hanks, Patrick. Dictionary of American Family Names. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
Images: All but one of the flower images in this post are in the public domain. They come from MorgueFile, Pixabay, National Park Service websites, and Wikimedia Commons. The gloxinia image was adapted from Gloxinia by abelard1005 under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.