The Science of Terpenes

Terpenes have become a popular topic of discussion in the cannabis industry lately, and have raised questions, tested boundaries, and revolutionized taste & smell of extracts.  But what are they?  Terpenes are an organic, carbon compound that are found in the crystalline, trichomes that cover the cannabis leaves and flowers.  Most commonly discussed in role in essential oils, terpenes are a chain of 5 carbon molecules that act as a base to create hundreds of various scents and flavors. 

There are over 100 terpenes identified in the cannabis plant.  These are separate from cannabinoids, which include THC, CBD, CBN, THC-A, and others.  While you cannot smell THC content of a plant, some research shows that cannabinoids and terpenes grow simultaneously under UV light, meaning, sometimes the smell strength (terpenes) in the plant can indicate the cannabinoid (THC) concentration.

Here is a quick look at the top 5 terpenes in a cannabis plant:



Myrcene is the most abundant terpene in cannabis and according to some research, concentration canindicate whether theplant is indica or sativa.  Steep Hill Labs found that a plant with more than 0.5% myrcene creates indica-like effects, while less than 0.5% creates sativa-like effects.  Unsurprisingly, Mycrene is known for it’s calming and sedative properties, as well as, being an anti-spasmodic. 

Other plants high in Myrcene:
Mango, Lemongrass, Hops, Basil

High Myrcene Strains:
White Widow, Skunk XL


Pinene smells just like it sounds and is shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and antiseptic properties.  This terpene can act as an inhibitor in the brain that helps to aid memory, and support the lungs as an expectorant and bronchodilator.

Other plants high in Pinene:
Pine, Juniper, Rosemary

High Pinene Strains:
Jack Herer, Blue Dream, Romulan

Beta Caryophyllene

Beta Caryophyllene is a unique terpene, as it can bind to CB2 receptors (like THC and CBD) and 

activate similar benefits as it’s cannabinoid friends.  Primarily known for it’s anti inflammatory, anti fungal, and analgesic effects, it can help to relieve pain and protect our cells. 

Other plants high in Beta Caryophyllene:
Clove, Black Pepper

High Beta Caryophyllene Strains:
ChemDawg, SkyWalker OG, Sour Diesel


Linalool is one of the sweeter, more pleasant smelling terpenes.   It’s known for it’s calming and anti-anxiety properties and a candy-like flavor.  High linalool can produce a sedative effect and even offers anti-epileptic support.

Other plants high in Linalool: Lavender, Clary Sage

High Linalool Strains:
Grand Daddy Purp, Amnesia Haze, Special Kush


Limonene also matches it’s smell to it’s sound.  With a bright, citrusy smell and flavor, it’s known for mood enhancing and uplifting qualities.  Citrus is often used for its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial benefits, and stress relieving aroma.

Other plants high in Limonene:
Citrus, Mint, Juniper

High Limonene Strains:
Super Lemon Haze, Durban Poison


And there are hundreds more!  Each plant has it’s own unique combination of terpenes and ratios, producing a whole spectrum of aromas and flavors.  Levels of terpenes can also vary greatly from plant to plant.  Next time you smoke, try to pick out a few flavors on your own!