Cannabis Anatomy

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes give cannabis strains their unique aromas.

Terpenes

Highlights
  • Terpenes are fragrant oils found in many types of plants that produce a unique taste and smell.
  • The tastes and smells of the terpenes in cannabis products have a very diverse range of aromas. Strains can produce a terpene profile that is earthy, woodsy, herbal, spicy, diesel or cheesy, all the way to citrusy or sweet.
  • Many terpenes are unique to cannabis. 

Cannabis gets its scent from compounds in the plants called terpenes. Terpenes are fragrant oils found in many types of plants, especially coniferous (evergreen) varieties. The chemical compounds they secrete give fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs their signature scents. There are over 100 identified terpenes, many of which are unique to the cannabis plant.

Although cannabis is often generally associated with a certain musky aroma, each strain of cannabis has its own scent. The individual scent of a strain will be based on the amount and type of terpenes present and which ones are dominant. Terpene scents range from earthy, woodsy, herbal, spicy, diesel or cheesy, all the way to citrusy or sweet.

Making this equation even more complex, each terpene can itself have multiple aroma profiles. Also, terpene levels can vary from crop to crop, which can lead to inconsistencies in the scents within the same strain.

Why are Terpenes Important?

We all have individual preferences for smells and tastes, so knowing the terpene profile of a cannabis product can help you choose one with a scent and flavour profile you’d most likely prefer.

Since many terpenes are associated with various types of plants and herbs used in naturopathic remedies, some theorize that terpenes play a role in the effect of cannabis. For instance, linalool, a common terpene found in lavender, may be associated with relaxation. Some also believe in the theory of “the entourage effect,” referring to the possibility that cannabinoids and terpenes work together in the overall effect of cannabis. As of now, these are just theories- the impact of terpenes beyond flavour and aroma has yet to be scientifically proven. 

Top 5 Most Common Terpenes Found in Cannabis


Terpenes: Complex Aromas in Cannabis


Earthy Terpene

Earthy

  • MYRCENE – Scents: Musk, Earth, Ripe Fruit – Found in: Mango, Lemongrass, Hops, Thyme
  • HUMULENE – Scents: Woody, Earth – Found in: Hops, Coriander
  • TERPINOLENE – Scents: Smoke, Wood, Pine – Found in: Apples, Cumin, Lilac, Tea Tree Oil, Conifers
  • BORNEOL – Scents: Menthol, Camphor, Rich Earth – Found in: Wormwood, Cinnamon
  • NEROLIDOL – Scents: Wood, Bark, Flowers, Apples – Found in: Citronella, Ginger, Orange Peel
  • CEDRENE – Scents: Cedar, Amber, Sandalwood, Patchouli – Found in: Cedar
  • CARENE – Scents: Earth, Pine, Forest Scents, Citrus – Found in: Bell Pepper, Pine, Citrus Fruits
  • ALPHA PINENE – Scents: Pine, Rosemary – Found in: Pines, Conifers, Rosemary, Sage

Spicy Terpene

Spicy

  • BETA-CARYOPHYLLENE – Scents: Peppery Spice, Wood – Found in: Black Pepper, Cloves, Balsam
  • SABINENE – Scents: Wood, Pepper, Spices – Found in: Oak, Tea Tree Oil, Black Pepper, Carrot Seed
  • TERPINEOL – Scents: Florals, Lilac, Lime, Cardamom, Clove – Found in: Cypress, Juniper Berries, Cardamom, Marjoram, Thyme
  • BORNEOL – Scents: Menthol, Camphor, Rich Earth – Found in: Wormwood, Cinnamon

Sweet Terpene

Sweet

  • MYRCENE – Scents: Musk, Earth, Ripe Fruit – Found in: Mango, Lemon Grass, Hops, Thyme
  • GERANIOL – Scents: Geranium, Rose, Citronella, Stone Fruits – Found in: Geraniums, Tobacco, Lemons
  • TERPINEOL – Scents: Florals, Lilac, Lime, Cardamom, Clove – Found in: Cypress, Juniper Berries, Cardamom, Marjoram, Thyme
  • NEROL – Scents: Bitter, Citrus, Rose – Found in: Cumin, Lilac, Apple, Tea Tree, Conifers
  • CITRONELLOL – Scents: Floral, Sweet Citrus, Rose – Found in: Roses, Geraniums, Lemon Grass

Floral Terpene

Floral

  • TERPINEOL – Scents: Florals, Lilac, Lime, Cardamom, Clove – Found in: Cypress, Juniper Berries, Cardamom, Marjoram, Thyme
  • OCIMENE – Scents: Flowers, Fruit, Herbs – Found in: Mint, Parsley, Pepper, Basil, Mango, Orchids
  • LINALOOL – Scents: Sweet Flowers, Citrus – Found in: Lavender and Many Flowers, Mint, Cinnamon
  • BISABOLOL – Scents: Fresh Flowers – Found in: Chamomile

Fruity Terpene

Fruity

  • GERANIOL – Scents: Geranium, Rose, Citronella, Stone Fruits – Found in: Geraniums, Tobacco, Lemons
  • LINALOOL – Scents: Sweet Flowers, Citrus – Found in: Lavender and Many Flowers, Mint, Cinnamon
  • OCIMENE – Scents: Flowers, Fruit, Herbs – Found in: Mint, Parsley, Pepper, Basil, Mango, Orchids
  • NEROLIDOL – Scents: Wood, Bark, Flowers, Apples – Found in: Citronella, Ginger, Orange Peel
  • CITRONELLOL – Scents: Floral, Sweet Citrus, Rose – Found in: Roses, Geraniums, Lemon Grass

Citrus Terpene

Citrus

  • LIMONENE – Scents: Lemon or Lime – Found in: Citrus Fruits, Juniper
  • VALENCENE – Scents: Oranges, Tangerines or Grapefruit – Found in: Citrus fruits, Valencia oranges
  • PHELLANDRENE – Scents: Citrus, Mint, Herbs, Pepper – Found in: Eucalyptus, Pine, Parsley, Dill, Mint, Lavender
  • CYMENE – Scents: Tangy Oranges, Carrots, Musk – Found in: Cumin, Thyme
  • CARENE – Scents: Earth, Pine, Forest Scents, Citrus – Found in: Bell Pepper, Pine, Citrus Fruits

Herbal Terpene

Herbal

  • ALPHA PINENE – Scents: Pine, Rosemary – Found in: Pines, Conifers, Rosemary, Sage
  • BETA PINENE – Scents: Dill, Parsley, Basil – Found in: Pines, Conifers, Rosemary, Sage
  • EUCALYPTOL – Scents: Eucalyptus, Mint, Spice – Found in: Eucalyptus
  • OCIMENE – Scents: Flower, Fruit, Herbs – Found in: Mint, Parsley, Pepper, Basil, Mango and Orchids
  • FENCHOL – Scents: Camphor, Pine, Lemon – Found in: Basil
  • MENTHOL – Scents: Cooling Mint – Found in: Various Mints
  • PHYTOL – Scents: Green Tea, Light Florals, Jasmine, Balsam – Found in: Green tea
  • ISOPULEGOL – Scents: Sweet Mint, Eucalyptus – Found in: Eucalyptus, Lemongrass, Geranium
  • PHELLANDRENE – Scents: Citrus, Mint, Herbs, Pepper – Found in: Eucalyptus, Pine, Parsley, Dill, Mint, Lavender
  • PULEGONE – Scents: Mint, Camphor – Found in: Peppermint, Catnip, Pennyroyal

Skunky Terpene

Skunky

  • MYRCENE – Scents: Musk, Earth, Ripe Fruit – Found in: Mango, Lemon Grass, Hops, Thyme
  • ALPHA-PINENE – Scents: Pine, Rosemary – Found in: Pines, Conifers, Rosemary, Sage
  • BETA-PINENE – Scents: Dill, Parsley, Basil – Found in: Pines, Conifers, Rosemary, Sage
  • BETA-CARYOPHYLLENE – Scents: Peppery Spice, Wood – Found in: Black Pepper, Cloves, Balsam
  • LIMONENE – Scents: Lemon, Lime – Found in: Citrus Fruits, Juniper
  • LINALOOL – Scents: Sweet Flowers, Citrus – Found in: Lavender and Many Flowers, Mint, Cinnamon

Cheesy Terpene

Cheesy

  • ALPHA-PINENE – Scents: Pine, Rosemary – Found in: Pines, Conifers, Rosemary, Sage
  • BETA-PINENE – Scents: Dill, Parsley, Basil – Found in: Pines, Conifers, Rosemary, Sage
  • BETA-CARYOPHYLLENE – Scents: Peppery Spice, Wood – Found in: Black Pepper, Cloves, Balsam
  • LIMONENE – Scents: Lemon, Lime – Found in: Citrus Fruits, Juniper
  • HUMULENE – Scents: Wood, Earth – Found in: Hops, Coriander
  • LINALOOL – Scents: Sweet Flowers, Citrus – Found in: Lavender and Many Flowers, Mint, Cinnamon
  • NEROLIDOL – Scents: Wood, Bark, Flowers, Apples – Found in: Citronella, Ginger, Orange Peel

Terpenes are one of many factors to consider when choosing the right cannabis product for you. Read more about these factors here

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