A Rose by Any Other Name? Violet? Fern?

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In Shakespeare’s most famous play, the line “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” refers to Juliet’s love. Young Juliet declares that she will still love Romeo even though he is a Montague, a family Juliet’s family (the Capulets) are fiercely feuding with.

The actual name – Rose – is old fashioned. A number of people have an “Aunt Rose” somewhere in their family shrubs. But recently, the name has made a comeback. There are adorable little girls in nursery schools named Rose – though more often than not, they are called Rosie.

I’ve always loved girls’ names that are also flowers. There’s something so pretty and feminine about them. When I was a little girl and imagined having lots of children, I created a bouquet of little girls: Lily, Rosie, Daisy. Others like girls’ flower names as well.

The Social Security Administration’s  top baby names in recent years include some flowery femininity.

Chloe is name with Greek origins that refers to a blooming plant or a growing shoot.

Jasmine is a climbing pant with particularly fragrant flowers.  The Persian origin is popularly “Yasmin.”

Lily is lovely and represents purity, innocence and beauty.  Old fashioned but quite popular on the elementary school roll calls of today.

Heather is from the English word for the variety of shrubs with pink or white flowers which commonly grow in rocky areas. Heather is also a color, a light purple shade.

Other less popular flower names

Daisy is often used as a nickname for Margaret since the flower is called a “marguerite” in France.  Henry James named the typical American girl Daisy Miller in his novel.

Iris comes from the Greek word for rainbow, referring to the wide variety of flower colors found among the many species.

Lantana has attractive tiny orange and purple blossoms, but the of the leaves are somewhat poisonous to most animals.  

Posy can also be short for Josephine.

Pansy recalls those velvety spring flowers in pinks and deep purples

Petula  has  English origins, though uncertain derivation and meaning. Some believe it to be a fanciful invention based on the flower names petunia and tulip. The most notable Petula is singer Petula Clark (b. 1932) whose father said he invented the name.

Tamara is a Hebrew name meaning palm tree, the name also occurs in Sanscrit writing as “spice.”  It was in the top 100 names in the United States during the late 60’s and early 70’s.

Violet is of Latin origin and one of the earliest flower names. Probably used in the early 1800’s.

Flower monikers named after botanists include:

Dahlia named after Swedish botanist Anders Dahl

Magnolia named after French botanist Pierre Magnol

Zinnia named after 18th century German botanist Johann Zinn

Fern – my name is decidedly old-fashioned and is not moving up on the charts. In decades of teaching school, I have yet to have a little Fern in one of my classes. At this point in my life, I don’t even know if I like or dislike the name. I can’t separate it from just being me!

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