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capitalization: biological terms

Capitalize the scientific name of a phylum, order, class, family or genus:

  • the phylum Arthropoda
  • the order Rosales
  • the genus Sporotrichum

Do not capitalize common names or the epithets referring to a species or subspecies, even if they are derived from proper names:

  • The jaguar and the lion are members of the family Felidae.
  • the species Sporotrichum schenkii (second word denotes species)

Note: For rules governing the italicization of biological classifications, see ITALICS: MATHEMATICAL, STATISTICAL AND SCIENTIFIC MATERIAL.

Also, capitalize proper nouns modifying a common name, except where usage has established the lower case:

  • Grayson lily
  • Cupid’s-delight
  • Queen Anne’s lace
  • Judas tree
  • Canada goose
  • Dutch elm


  • timothy grass