2

I'm reasonably familiar with the capitalisation and italicisation rules that govern scientific names, but am a bit confused about capitalising, or not, the name of a genus, e.g. Eucalyptus when used in a sentence. Which of the following is correct?

Where do Eucalyptus trees come from?
Where do eucalyptus trees come from?

Is this correct:

"Are eucalypts indigenous to Australia?"

1
  • 2
    Yes, your last sentence would be correct - you don't need to capitalize "eucalypts". Normal English capitalization rules apply, of course: DO capitalize it at the beginning of a sentence, or in the case of a pub called The Fookin' Eucalypt. (I would totally drink there.)
    – MT_Head
    Jul 5, 2012 at 8:19

1 Answer 1

6

We don't write Oak tree, and there's no reason to write Eucalyptus tree in non-specialist writing. However, in scientific writing it is customary to capitalise the first letter of a genus (but not the first letter of a species), so botanists would describe the tree native to Australia as Eucalyptus obliqua.

5
  • So, do we capitalize it because it is the genus ("oak" being the common term rather than "Quercus"), or don't capitalize it because we are not using it in a scientific context?
    – BillyNair
    Jul 5, 2012 at 7:25
  • @BillyNair: Both. Jul 5, 2012 at 7:27
  • GAH!! So it is fine either way? the sentence: "I watched a koala climb the Eucalyptus tree." would be ok? or should I save the capital for talking about scientific terms?
    – BillyNair
    Jul 5, 2012 at 7:46
  • 2
    @BillyNair - You could say "I watched a koala climb the eucalyptus tree" (lower case), or "I watched the Phascolarctos cinereus climb the Eucalyptus obliqua." You don't need to capitalize the genus (in a non-scientific context) UNLESS it is not the same as the common name (capitalize Quercus, don't capitalize oak.)
    – MT_Head
    Jul 5, 2012 at 7:49
  • OK, that is what I was thinking. Just got confused in the translation.
    – BillyNair
    Jul 5, 2012 at 8:10

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.