Guide to Cannabis Terpenes: Everything You Need To Know

There’s usually a process cannabis enthusiasts follow to get to conversations about terpenes. First, as a newcomer to the industry, you just want to figure out things like how to use a dab rig or grind flower and pack your handpipe. From there, it’s almost a snowball effect. You get good at your favorite way to consume marijuana, and you start wanting to try new types of products and new strains. That eventually leads you to learning about trichomes, cannabinoids, and of course, terpenes.

Whether you followed that well-trod path or you got here through a different series of events, welcome. We’re going to give you all the information you need to start exploring the world of cannabis terpenes.

What are Cannabis Terpenes?

Think of your favorite strain of marijuana flower. Think about how it smells when the budtender pulls it from the top-shelf at one of our locations. Think about how it tastes when you first spark the bowl in your hand pipe. Those unique scents and flavors are all thanks to cannabis terpenes.

Cannabis terpenes are compounds contained in the trichomes—much like cannabinoids—that give cannabis its taste and smell. The way terpenes interact with one another is something we’re still trying to understand, but we do know that different amounts of terpenes create different flavors, and growers continue to try to master the terpene profiles of their strains to create more great tasting and uniquely flavored cultivars.

While we may love terpenes for the sensory adventure they take us on every time we consume marijuana, they’re also key to the plant’s ability to grow, reproduce, and survive both insects, animals, and harsh environments.



Also Found In

Pine needles, Rosemary, Basil, Parsley

Musky, Cloves, Tropical Fruit
Mangoes, Lemongrass, Thyme, Hops

Fruit rinds, Juniper, Peppermint

Spicy, Peppery
Black pepper, Cloves, Cotton

Floral, Citrus
Lavender, Laurel

Fruity, Citrus, Floral, Rosey
Lemons, Citronella

Hoppy, Woody, Earthy
Sage, Ginseng, Hops, Coriander

Floral, Woody, Sweet
Mango, Basil, Bergamot, Orchid

Pine, Floral, Herbal
Nutmeg, Tea Tree, Apple, Cumin

What are the Different Types of Cannabis Terpenes?

There are over 150 terpenes and plenty of them are found in cannabis. That said, there is a small list of terpenes that you’ll see pretty regularly if you’re someone who loves to explore different terpene profiles.

What is Alpha-Pinene

Take a walk through an evergreen forest and you won’t be able to help experiencing pinene. Pinene is one of the most popular terpenes for manufacturers looking for a fresh pine scent, and in marijuana, it can create everything from woodsy undertones to full blown Christmas tree aromas. 

What is Caryophyllene

If you like spice, you’re going to enjoy strains with ample amounts of caryophyllene in them. This terpene is responsible for that powerful, sneeze-inducing scent of black pepper, but it also has sweet undertones that give cinnamon its flavor.

What is Geraniol
Geraniol was first discovered in geranium, from which it got its name. This acyclic monoterpene-alcohol is also found in small quantities in lemon, pelargonium, roses, palmarosa and citronella, as well as several other essential oils. Geraniol produces an aroma of sweet, citrus, floral that is similar to roses. Geraniol has very uplifting effects with some added stress relief.

What is Limonene

It’s pretty easy to guess by the name alone what sort of flavor profile you’re going to get with limonene. This lemony terpene smells and tastes like a fresh bowl of citrus fruits. Limonene is loved by manufacturers for all types of products, including household cleaners. 

What is Linalool

This terpene’s gentle floral aroma is what gives lavender its unique, relaxing scent. Like limonene and pinene, linalool is also prized by manufacturers who produce everything from lotion to candles and room sprays.

What is Myrcene

Tropical, woodsy, and spicy—those three words are the best description for this flavorful terpene. If it’s hard to imagine a taste like that, just take a bite of mango. Myrcene is one of the main contributors to the fruit’s flavor.

What Do Cannabis Terpenes Do?

Cannabis terpenes don’t just affect our experience when we enjoy marijuana, they’re also crucial to the plant’s survival. Think about how many times you’ve stopped to sniff a flower and noticed a butterfly or bee flitting around the petals. These pollinators ensure the plant can reproduce, and they’re attracted by the scent of terpenes—the same compounds that make you pause and smell the roses, so to speak. That said, as much as terpenes can attract certain things, it can repel others, like harmful insects and hungry critters. In addition to these important functions, terpenes can also protect the marijuana plant from environmental elements, like weather and the sun’s UV rays.

Of course, you probably want to know what terpenes do in your body too. We’re still researching things like the therapeutic potential of terpenes, but there’s two things we do know—terpenes help cannabinoids enter the bloodstream, and they contribute to the entourage effect. This effect describes how all compounds in cannabis create the sensations and effects we experience when consuming cannabis.

As the industry continues to invest more and more into marijuana research, it’s likely that we’ll learn even more about what terpenes can do.

Why are Terpenes Important to Cannabis?

From a consumer perspective, terpenes are important to cannabis for two reasons. First, terpenes contribute to the marijuana plant’s flavors and aromas. Without terpenes, your favorite sweet, citrus-flavored marijuana or harsh, diesel-scented strain wouldn’t have those unique characteristics.

Second, terpenes are part of the entourage effect you experience when you consume marijuana. See, we used to think that the sensations we get with marijuana were all because of a single compound—THC. Now, we know that cannabis has a complex collection of compounds, including cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. The entourage effect is the theory that every one of those compounds create the cannabis experience—so terpenes are an important ingredient in how you feel when enjoying marijuana products.

From a plant perspective, terpenes actually help the marijuana plant thrive and reproduce. They can actually protect cannabis from UV rays, attract pollinators, and keep certain hungry critters and insects away.

What are Terpenes Used for?

Terpenes can be used for a variety of purposes. Many of the same terpenes found in cannabis can be found in other plants, flowers, trees, and fruits. Terpenes from non-marijuana sources are used for a variety of purposes, including essential oils, perfumes, laundry detergents, and more. You can also find terpenes in household cleaners, lotions, and candles.

Terpenes from the cannabis plant are specifically used in marijuana products. These products can include lotions, salves, edibles, and more, but they can also include concentrates. Many cannabis enthusiasts enjoy the unique flavor and aroma profiles that terpenes can create, and because of this, manufacturers of different types of concentrates will actually reintroduce terpenes to the final product post-extraction.

Answering FAQs About Terpenes

The more people learn about terpenes, the more questions they have about these fascinating little compounds. Here’s just a few of the questions we’ve answered this week:

How many types of cannabis terpenes are there?
There are actually over 150 different types of terpenes found in marijuana.

Do terpenes impact cannabis potency?
Yes, but not in the same way that THC impacts potency. There are two ways that terpenes can affect potency—by helping cannabinoids enter the bloodstream and by contributing to the entourage effect, which is the idea that the post-cannabis consumption experience is caused by all the compounds found in marijuana, not just THC.

Are cannabis terpenes important?
Cannabis terpenes are extremely important. They help the marijuana plant both protect itself and reproduce, and they create the taste and scent experiences that we as consumers love. Plus, while we still need a lot more research to make any final determinations, scientists are also investigating the possibility that terpenes could have therapeutic properties. That said, there is one thing we do know—if the cannabis plant didn’t have terpenes, it’s likely we wouldn’t have cannabis.

Experience Terpenes for Yourself

Whether you indulge in a variety of marijuana strains or you like to dabble in strong-scented concentrates, there are plenty of options available to experience terpenes for yourself. To get started, view our menu. You can decide on strains with flavorful reputations, or you can opt to come in with a few options and talk to your budtender about their terpene profiles.

Please consume responsibly. This product may cause impairment and may be habit forming. There may be health risks associated with consumption of this product.  State laws impact what dispensaries can and can’t sell to recreational customers and medical marijuana patients. Not every type of product, consumption method, dosage form, or potency mentioned on this blog will be permitted in all locations.