How to Add a Common Name to a Taxon

While iNat strives to maintain a single taxonomy that is managed by its site curators, any user can add a common name to a taxon and edit any common names they have added. Staff and site curators can edit and manage all common names. Please only add common names which are in regular use, and please follow the Guidelines for adding common names. Please do not make up common names.


A common name must be associated with a lexicon, and may be associated with a place.

If the name is the only one listed for a lexicon into which iNaturalist has been translated (eg Japanese, Spanish, Russian), it will be the default name for users who have chosen that lexicon as their locale. If there is more than one name per locale, a curator can edit the order for that lexicon.

The place association is meant to deal with two situations:

  • Within a widely-spoken lexicon, such as English or Spanish, common names for a single taxon vary by location. For example New Zealand and southern Africa have different common names for Carpobrotus edulis - edible sourfig and sea fig, respectively.

  • iNaturalist has not been translated into the name’s lexicon.

In either situation, in your Account Settings, you can choose a place preference for common names and if a common name associated with that place exists, you’ll see that common name regardless of your account’s locale. If no common name is associated with that place, you will see the default common name for your chosen locale.


Here are directions for how to add a common name. I’m going pretend that “feral wilderness prophet” is the most popular English common name for Lepus californicus in the state of California.

  1. Navigate to the taxon’s page on iNaturalist (eg https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/43130-Lepus-californicus) and click on the Taxonomy tab.

  1. Scroll down to “Names”. You will see existing names on the left, as well as which lexicon they are associated with. On the right you will see the “Add a Name” button as well as “About Names”. Please read the “About Names” text.

  1. Click on the “Add a Name” button and you’ll be taken to the following screen. Please read and follow the Guidelines. If you have any questions, flag the taxon or ask about the appropriateness of your suggested name on the Forum.

  1. Write the common name you would like to add in the Name field, and choose a Lexicon for it.

  1. You can then choose a place for which this name will be associated. For this example, we’ll add “California”.

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  1. If everything looks good, press Save. The name will now be listed on the taxon’s page, and you will see an “Edit” link next to it, since you created it.

If you click on the link, you can edit or delete that name. Note that your account will be recorded as the creator of the name.

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  1. Now, anyone who has chosen “California” as their source for common names in their Account Settings…

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…will see this common name for Lepus californicus.

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