Weed Science: What are Cannabis Terpenes?

“A rose by any other name..” One of the most loved attributes of cannabis, both by consumers and growers, is the aroma. There are a huge variety of of strains available, each with their own unique aroma and taste. Cheese, Kush, Diesel and Haze all have very different aromas. But what causes the smell of cannabis plants?


Marijuana Terpenes

The different aromas of cannabis comes from terpenes. Much like cannabinoids, terpenes are produced in glandular trichomes. Over 120 different terpenes have been found in the cannabis plant, some in very large amounts, even up to 20 percent of the glands, some just a small amount. You can often identify a strain by its terpenes, thought they can be affected by when, and how the plant is grown.

Lemons Smell like Lemon Haze

Terpenes, unlike cannabinoids, are common throughout the plant world. It’s the same terpenes that give lemons and Lemon Haze that fresh citrusy smell. There are many terpenes in cannabis that a very common in other plants, below are a few examples of common terpenes:

               Alpha-Pinene, Beta-Pinene

Pinene is responsible for the fresh pine smell found in pine needles, but also the fresh hazey smell of Super Silver Haze.


The spicy peppery terpene gives black pepper its pungency, the same pungent smell found in most type of good cannabis.


Musky and a little fruity, this terpene is found in cannabis strains, it gives that strong smell found in Kush and Skunk strains. You’ll also find myrcene in mango and hops.


Fresh and citrusy, limonene is what’s responsible for the smell of lemons and the sweet smell of Super Lemon Haze.


Floral and a little spicy, like a good bud of Lavender, LA Confidential or the plant Lavender.           


Strong Smelling Buds Can Cause Problems

Sadly not everyone likes the smell of good cannabis, law enforcement especially. Drug dogs are actually trained to smell caryophyllene, and the strong pungent odour of many cannabis strains can be smelt by humans. Some strains are so strong smelling that the odour seems to penetrate straight through the bag.


The Medical Potential of Terpenes

Not only do terpenes form the great aromas we know and love (well most of us), but research has also shown they may have many medical benefits. Pinene can help with alertness, memory and even asthma. Limonene can help with stress, enhance your mood and is anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and even anti-carcinogenic. Linalool is also good for stress and depression.


I Get High With A Little Help From My Friends

Terpenes even affect cannabinoids and can change the effect through something called the "entourage effect" but many also have their own benefits. Caryophyllene has been shown to be anti-inflammatory and may help with arthritis, ulcers, autoimmune disorders, and gastrointestinal problems – and has even been shown to activate the CB2 receptor.


Do Mangos Increase Your High?

Myrcene is another very interesting terpene, it may actually increase the strength of cannabis. Some people recommend eating mangoes, which are high in myrcene, before you smoke. It has also been shown to have a relaxing effect, which may even cause the so-called “couchlock” effect.


There is still a lot to learn about how cannabinoids and terpenes interact with each other but as breeding and testing of strains becomes more advanced we are getting closer to unlocking the true potential of the cannabis plant.

Stay tuned for more Weed Science coming soon!