In the cannabis plant, terpenes are produced in the same resin glands as the cannabinoids CBD and THC. In fact, cannabinoids and terpenes influence each other. The relationship between the two creates subtle changes in the plant's chemistry, resulting in the unique effects of each cannabis strain.
Everybody has a unique palate; certain tastes and smells that they are drawn to. Are you drawn to floral scents? Is a bright, citrus aroma more your style? Perhaps a more earthy, spicy profile lands with you. Either way, choosing a strain with an enjoyable aroma can seriously upgrade your cannabis experience. It works the same way with what you don't enjoy. Try to remember what smell or flavor you had on a strain you didn't enjoy and work around this for your next purchase.
Not only do terpenes carry distinct aromas, some terpenes are thought to promote energy and wake the system up, while others encourage relaxation and have calming effects on the body. From gentle myrcene to energizing ocimene, every terpene leans one way or the other.
Let's explore some of the more popular terpenes:
Myrcene is the most abundant terpene in Cannabis, which is where it’s mostly found in nature. In fact, one study showed that myrcene makes up as much as 65% of total terpene profile in some strains. Myrcene smell often reminds of earthy, musky notes, resembling cloves. Also, it has a fruity, red grape-like aroma. Strains that contain 0.5% of this terpene are usually indica's with sedative effects.
Limonene is the second most abundant terpene in all cannabis strains, but not all strains necessarily have it.
As its name says, limonene gives strains a citrusy smell that resembles lemons, which is no surprise as all citrus fruits contain large amounts of this compound. Limonene is used in cosmetics and also in cleaning products.
Strains that have “lemon” or “sour” in their name are usually rich in limonene. High levels of limonene can be found in strains like O.G. Kush, Sour Diesel, Super Lemon Haze, Durban Poison, Jack Herer, and Jack the Ripper.
This terpene is the most responsible for the recognizable marijuana smell with its spicy and floral notes. Linalool is also found in lavender, mint, cinnamon and coriander. What’s interesting is that just like those aromatic herbs, it has very strong sedative and relaxing properties.
Some well known linalool strains are Amnesia Haze, Special Kush, Lavender, LA Confidential, and OG Shark.
Best known for its spicy and peppery note, caryophyllene is also found in black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and spices like oregano, basil and rosemary. Beta-caryophyllene binds to CB2 receptors, which makes it a perfect ingredient in topicals and creams. Caryophyllene is the only terpene that binds to cannabinoid receptors.
Caryophyllene's most common strains are Super Silver Haze, Skywalker and Rock Star.
Alpha-pinene and Beta-pinene
These two cannabis terpenes smell like pine trees and that’s also where they can be found in large amounts. Other plants rich in pinene include rosemary, orange peels, basil, parsley and cannabis of course.
You can find pinene in strains like Jack Herer, Strawberry Cough, Blue Dream, Island Sweet Skunk, Dutch Treat and Romulan.
Alpha-bisabolol (also known as levomenol and bisabolol) has a pleasant floral aroma and can also be found in chamomile flower and candeia tree. It can be found in strains like Harle-Tsu, Pink Kush, Headband, OG Shark, and ACDC.
Also known as cineole, eucalyptol is the primary terpene of the eucalyptus tree. It has recognizable minty and cool tones in its smell but most cannabis strains do not contain large amounts of it. It usually makes up around 0.06% of a strains complete terpene profile.
This terpene has been used in cosmetics as well as medicine. Eucalyptol can be found in Super Silver Haze and Headband.
This one is a secondary terpene found mostly in flowers like jasmine, lemongrass, and tea tree oil. The smell of trans-nerolidol reminds of a mixture of rose, citrus and apples and can be described in general as woody, citrus and floral.
Strains like Island Jack Herer, Sweet Skunk, and Skywalker OG are rich in nerolidol.
Humulene was the first terpene found in hops. Its aroma contains earthy, woody and spicy notes. You can find humulene in strains like White Widow, Headband, Girl Scout Cookies, Sour Diesel, Pink Kush and Skywalker OG.
The best way to describe the smell of camphene is fir needles, musky earth and damp woodlands. Camphene aroma is often mistaken with myrcene, which is that trademark marijuana smell as most of us know it.
Camphene is present in Ghost OG, Strawberry Banana, Mendocino Purps.
The aroma of terpineol can be best described as floral-like, reminiscent of lilacs, apple blossom, and a little bit citrusy. Terpineol tastes like anise and mint. Terpineol has a pleasant scent, similar to lilac, and is a common ingredient in perfumes, cosmetics, and flavors.
It can be found Girl Scout Cookies, Jack Herer, and OG Kush strains.
This terpene got its name from sweet Valencia oranges — where it’s been found in large amounts. With its sweet citrusy aromas and flavors, it’s used as an insect repellant, too. Valencene can be found in strains like Tangie and Agent Orange.