How to add common names?

So how does one create a common name for a species?? I have some ideas for a few species

IE Rudiloria mohicana. Mohican Millipede


Are these names that are in use, or that you are coming up with? Names on iNat should have documented use elsewhere before being added here.


atm coming up with but i’m interested in the process for making common names “official” or as official as they can get at least.

Well “official” is a bit subjective (lots of other forum posts on that), but generally it’s helpful to have something published that documents use.


If you’re interested in reading previous discussions about this, see these threads:

Long story short: iNaturalist is not a place to invent new names for species. Even names where there are published sources, but which are viewed by some people as misleading, not in common use or otherwise inappropriate have been the subject of extensive debate and disagreement.


Go find anybody working on the organism in question and persuade them to use the name in a publication. Doesn’t matter whether it’s a good publication. Doesn’t matter if it’s a good name.


Woo hoo, back to this subject again.

Here’s the very brief summary:

Only add common names already in documented use.

Do not add your own made-up common names no matter how good or appropriate you think they are.


You can always use your journal feature. I created a bunch of names for this group of taxa just for fun as part of a key that I made
You could always make an article more specifically about your name ideas. If people cotton on to them and they become popular in the real world one day then they can be added to iNat properly. Perhaps someone preparing a publication will come across them with Google!

Unfortunately as others have said we shouldn’t add our own invented names to iNat taxa - this is to prevent a ‘free-for-all’ and constant arguments between people who do or don’t like a certain idea, or have different preferences - (common names already create quite a bit of unnecessary agro that curators have to manage!)


Seconded. It causes major problems for systematists.


There are enough problems on iNaturalist with people creating common names with no actual common usage by translating scientific names, please do not add to the issue.

As explicitly stated by iNaturalist staff, this site is not the avenue for creating new common names, and such behavior is explicitly prohibited in the guidelines.


You guys always assume the worst, i didn’t even want to add common names i was asking about the process and the road TO make them

We can only reply to your question, as you chose to word it.

If you had asked about scientists describing a new species - you would have got a different answer.

Or - this is a name in common usage, how do I add it to iNat.

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"So how does one create a common name for a species?? I have some ideas for a few species

IE Rudiloria mohicana. Mohican Millipede"

I asked how does one create a common name, not add it to ANYTHING

Maybe you were misunderstood a bit. I think your true question was answered still. I’m sorry it seems like it wasn’t interpreted the way you meant it.

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I hate common names, They’re only common in a particular place, and quite a few of the plants I put on iNat have ‘common names’ that I’ve never heard of, or that belong to other plants.

Quoting myself, discussing Linnaean binomial naming:
So why do we have all these weird and often meaningless names, when common names are just as good? Well, depending where you travel, a blue-tongue can be a Tiliqua scincoides, a Tiliqua rugosa, or any other local animal with a blue tongue. A cabbage tree can be an Arecacea (palm), a Cordyline, a tree fern, or a Xanthorrhoea. In Victoria, manuka can be an Acacia, but in most places manuka is Leptospermum scoparium. Which is also called a tea-tree, but so are lots of other things.

And the notion of ‘official’ common names seems superfluous, given that we already have Linnaean binomial names. Yet another layer of admin to maintain uniqueness.

And re: the misunderstanding of your original question. As I re-read it now, I see that it does not unambiguously specify an intention to create a common name. But the way I first read it was that you did intend to do so. Communicating to humans is so difficult.

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Yes. But. Most of us live in a particular place - we have grown up with common names and binomials came later. If your particular place changes, you learn a fresh set from local people - and add to your known binomials. iNat becomes a new swathe of particular places.

PS this is my cabbage tree (goodness only knows why cabbage?!)
PPS the roots are edible


well i mainly asked because of my parents and grandparents, they will never understand that i use the animals true name when talking bout them

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Most of us live in a particular place.

I reject that as an argument in favour of using common names.

I’m sure that, unless you’re extremely insular, you’ve had the frustrating experience of being in a group that used the same name for different things, and different names for the same thing.

iNat is worldwide, we don’t all live in the same particular place.
I travel around a bit, to different particular places.
My neighbours and workmates come from different particular places.

I don’t expect the world to try to untangle the dozen ‘common’ (or not so common) names for that plant I just saw.
White cypress, applies to that and 4 others.
White pine, that and a different 4 others.
Fencepost pine, that and ??? others.
Stinkwood, that and several others others.
Clitoris pine, for several Callitris spp.
Native pine, several in Australia + several in other countries.
and so on.

If I say Callitris glaucophylla, that can only apply to one thing, and everybody and their dog don’t have to guess what I might have meant.

PS this is my cabbage tree (goodness only knows why cabbage?!)

:-) thanks


well i mainly asked because of my parents and grandparents, they will never understand that i use the animals true name when talking bout them

That’s OK, have your family ‘pet name’. In my family we have ‘things that grow bigger than that’ for Hymenosporum flavum, but I wouldn’t inflict it on the rest of the world.

when I help to ID unknowns on iNat, yes. Those various common names (used by observers in different countries) have to be searchable, then I can find my way to the scientist’s choice. Today we were using South African English, and Afrikaans common names, to get to the Greek / Latin which science accepts. Till the taxonomists shuffle the deck again. Then the despised common name holds good. That slice of biodiversity remains itself whatever label we put on it, whatever carefully crafted box we force it into.