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Cannabis Terpene Guide: Everything You Need To Know

Published June 13, 2022
What Are Terpenes
As you continue to explore cannabis and all of its wonders, one of the first areas you may have learned is the distinctions between indica and sativa.

Once you know the differences between the two, another unique part of this plant is brought to the surface: terpenes.

But wait…what are cannabis-derived terpenes? What role do they play? If you’ve wondered this, tag along with us as we focus on the significance of these compounds.

Here, we’re going to cover:

  • What Are Terpenes?
  • What Are Cannabis Terpenes?
  • Different Types Of Cannabis Terpenes
  • Myrcene
  • Beta-Caryophyllene
  • Limonene
  • Pinene 
  • What’s The Difference Between Terpenes And Cannabinoids?
  • Do Terpenes Cause Effects On Their Own?
  • Do Terpenes Enhance The Effects Of Cannabis?
  • Conclusion

    Let’s get into it! 

    What Are Terpenes?

    Terpenes are aromatic chemical compounds found in various plants and some animals. Some examples are lavender, oranges, and of course, cannabis.

    These naturally occurring compounds combine to create unique scents, flavors, colors, and protection against animal grazing and disease.

    But terpenes play a role in many of our lives. For one, most people are aware of the importance of bees. Without terpenes, the herbs and flowers we grow wouldn’t attract these pollinators.

    However, not all terpenes are used to attract or repel insects and animals.

    Some terpenes are responsible for helping the plant recover from damage physically and preventing the entry of harmful bacteria.

    Another use of these chemicals is the ways they can be isolated and processed. Many manufacturers use them to create dyes, cleaning solvents, pesticides, and even perfume.

    To sum it up, most plants contain terpenes, with each one having another purpose from the next.

    What Are Cannabis Terpenes?

    There are over 150 different terpenes in cannabis, with most of them being difficult to detect. However, a handful of prominent types combine to create scent profiles. 

    Some signature profiles like Blue Dream produce a distinct berry, floral scent with a hint of earthy essence.

    Or, if you’re more accustomed to the Northern Lights, you’re familiar with its lemon-zest aroma and hints of pine.

    Despite which type of hemp flower you prefer, you can thank terpenes for evoking these unique aromas.  

    But where are these compounds located in cannabis?

    Terpenes are located in the trichomes of female cannabis plants.

    Trichomes are tiny crystals that cover the surface of the flower and other areas of the plant.

    Learn More >>> What Are Hemp Trichomes?

    In these, they contain resin glands, the factory that produces terpenes. 

    And although we love the scents produced, these aromatic compounds play a pivotal part in the plants' growth and protection from predators.

    Some variables can affect the percentage of terpenes produced in cannabis, such as whether or not it was grown indoors, light exposure, nutrients, and when the plant is harvested.

    However, isolating these compounds is more complex than you’d think.

    Due to the volatility of terpenes, if they aren’t extracted properly, many won’t “survive.”

    This predicament has led many manufacturers to use advanced extraction methods such as the process it takes to produce live rosin.

    Since live rosin is made from fresh, frozen cannabis plants, the terpenes and other compounds are protected throughout the process.

    The result is a rich product full of terpenes and cannabinoids, which otherwise would have been destroyed. 

    Different Types Of Cannabis Terpenes

    cannabis terpenes graphic

    As we mentioned, there are a lot of terpenes present in cannabis (over 150 types). While most of these are too low of a concentration to detect, some are noticeably evident.

    Below, we have the four common terpenes. 


    This terpene can be located in herbs and fruit, such as lemongrass, thyme, and mangos. The scent can be described as earthy and musky, with hints of spice.

    study indicates that myrcene helps cannabinoids cross through the blood-brain barrier so that the compounds can bind to the receptors in the ECS.


    Caryophyllene is known for its presence in cloves, oregano, and black pepper. So if you catch a scent with a peppery, warm aroma, it likely has the caryophyllene terpene.

    Due to its molecular structure, it can bind to the CB2 receptors. Out of all the other terpenes, caryophyllene is currently the only type to directly activate this receptor.


    If you say limonene out loud, you’ll quickly discover its name perfectly describes this terpene. Found in citrus fruits, this zesty scent will provide a fresh, fruity alternative to those who don’t partially enjoy the other aromas.


    Pinene is found in, you guessed it, pine trees. Some other plants it can be found in are dill, basil, and rosemary. This terpene is attributed to cannabis by giving it the familiar woodsy scent and pine flavor. 

    What’s The Difference Between Terpenes And Cannabinoids?

    Cannabinoids are naturally occurring chemical compounds located in cannabis. Some well-known types include Delta 9 THC, Delta 8 THC, and CBD.

    Each cannabinoid offers something different due to its unique molecular structure. For example, various forms of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) activate receptors located throughout the endocannabinoid system (ECS). By binding to our CB1 and CB2 receptors, it creates acute effects.

    On the flip side, Cannabidiol (CBD) doesn’t bind to the reports. Instead, it interacts with them indirectly. So it doesn’t influence an individual in the same way that THC does.

    When speaking about terpenes, their primary purpose is to create aroma and protect the plant.

    Some terpenes interact with the ECS, but it doesn’t bind to our receptors like other cannabinoids. 

    Do Terpenes Cause Effects On Their Own?

    For decades, researchers have been focused on cannabinoids, which is why there’s not much research on how terpenes affect the body.

    This doesn’t mean there aren’t effects. It simply demonstrates the need for more studies on how the terpene in itself interacts with our ECS.

    However, what isn’t news is aromatherapy. Sometimes inhaling the scents from certain plants can affect an individual’s mood.

    Do Terpenes Enhance The Effects Of Cannabis?

    When there are multiple cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds, they have a purpose individually. But when they come together?

    Magic happens.

    Well… it's not magic…it’s a type of entourage effect.

    This phenomenon occurs when different chemical compounds work synergistically to produce an array of other effects and sensations.

    Some enthusiasts prefer to consume products with a variety of cannabinoids and terpenes because they believe it enhances their sessions.

    But remember, the effects vary from person to person.


    Terpenes are responsible for many different areas.

    From plant development to working synergistically with other cannabinoids, these chemical compounds do much more than just produce pleasing scents.

    Without them, the survival and health of the plant would be impossible, which means cannabis would not be here today.

    Although research is still in infancy, it’s interesting to hear about how terpenes make a difference in the plants' survival, aroma, and flavor.

    So next time you take a whiff of your hemp flower, remember the role that terpenes play in making your sessions enjoyable.

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