Can we invent common names for genus and higher taxa?

The Curator guidelines have this paragraph:

For higher level taxa it can be hard to find a common name that describes all descendants. In these cases, for the global default name, we go with something like “Herons and Allies” or “heath family.”

I interpret that as we can sort of make a common name up if there isn’t one. Is that correct?

Certain clades or families may not have a common name, but if you can think of a way to name the taxa (using existing English words) that describes all the species within it, then it’s okay to do so and add it as a common name?

So for example, I cannot find a Swedish common name for the Quercus subgenus Quercus. In English it is “high-latitude oaks”. That’s a good and useful name. So if I can think of something equivalent for Swedish, can I add that?
Or something simpler, like “Euarchontoglires”, which has “Primates, Rodents, and Allies” as a common name in English. Can I use a translation of that as a Swedish common name? Not sure how to translate the word “allies”, but there is probably a word for it.


In general, No, common names should not be invented for iNat. There are a fair amount of other threads that discuss this and some of the issues. An example is:

That said, I think purely descriptive names that just create a group of existing names that are in usage are ok. The examples from the curator guide are like this

and I think that one of your proposed examples would fall under this:

This seems like it would be acceptable, though happy to hear other opinions.

I would not recommend a straight translation of

if it isn’t already in usage, but some other users might have good counterpositions.


There’s a wide tendency in many animal groups (birds, mammals, and leps come to mind) to simply “Anglicize” the Latin name of families to create a passable “English” name for them. Thus you might see discussion of such groups as Murids (mice and rats), Parulids (New World wood warblers), or Noctuids (cutworm moths and allies). These aren’t really common names, but they are short hand for the somewhat more cumbersome scientific names or group names. As a retired biologist, I’m comfortable using these, but I realize that they don’t offer much in the way of plain language common names nor do they have great utility in the general public. If I began a talk about “Hominids”, most folks with an interest in Nature will understand the target, but maybe not so much for Corvids or Bucculatricids!


I think you’ve got the nuance about right. The ‘no inventing names’ rule definitely gets gradually fuzzier as you move to broader ranks. Still an attempt should be made to stay close to the spirit of the rule. ‘High-altitude oaks’ might be ok, but probably everyone would think ‘High altitude Lobe-leafs’ would be unacceptable invention. Silly example.

Loads of taxa have ‘and allies’, probably you can find one with a Swedish equivalent and use that for consistency.


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