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Cannabis Terpenes Play a Huge Role in Making Each Cultivar Unique

Terpenes Feature Image

Everyone loves when the pack is loud – when that earthy, skunk-like aroma uppercuts our nostrils with anticipated pleasure. Or when buds dazzle us with nostalgic smells that place you at grandma’s house on a Sunday morning. Imagine the sun shining through the curtains, beating through your eyelids. You rise to a blend of smells, Clorox and lemon-scented Fabuloso, and the mixed sounds of smooth jazz with a dash of funk for extra motivation. That’s a Sunday morning. Multiple cannabis cultivars (or strains) are the perfect company for that particular vibe, thanks to a combo of cannabinoids and terpenes.

The citrus, pine, or even lavender scents coming from your weed is produced by aromatic molecules called terpenes. Terpenes are natural oils produced by many plants occurring in nature to help repel predators and attract pollination. The cannabis plant, also of nature, has been discovered to have over 100 of them. And many factors influence a plant’s production of terpenes, including climate, weather, age, fertilizers, soil type, and even the time of day.

image of trichomes for text
magnified image of trichomes

Those milky-white crystals you see blanketing the buds like snow on wet pine needles are trichomes. Trichomes are the hair-like outgrowth on the surface of certain microorganisms, algae, and plant cells. They are the culprit behind cannabis’ stickiness and produce hundreds of cannabinoids and terpenes that make each cannabis cultivar unique.

Believe it or not, modern research show terpenes play a more significant role in determining the potential effects of a cultivar than whether it is an Indica, Sativa, or Hybrid. 

Some terpenes encourage relaxation and tranquility, such as linalool. Linalool is common to over 200 types of plants and delivers the signature floral scent of lavender with a hint of spiciness. Lavender plants and the terpenes, specifically linalool, produced are often used in aromatherapy for its ability to aid in reducing stress and anxiety. 

However, each cannabis plant has a different set of terpenes they produce. Knowing the terpene profile of your cultivar will give you a better idea of what effects it may produce. Luckily, it is becoming common for cannabis analysis labs to test for terpene content. The influence of any given terpene may change when in the presence of other compounds and vice versa, referred to as the entourage effect.

We can talk about terpene for days, but today, we just compiled a palatable list of three and paired each terp with a cultivar that contains large amounts of it. As a bonus, there are also a few cannabis cultivars that carry all three using lab reports from licensed cultivators.


Pinene is the most abundant terpene in nature and can typically be found in pine needles, orange peels, basil, rosemary, dill, and parsley, to name a few. Pinene adds a forest-like flavor and encourages a heady effect in many cannabis cultivars across the spectrum. Studies show that pinene potentially prevents short-term memory loss, allowing some people to lock into focus on whatever they are doing. It is the most basic and natural remedy to ADD. But, be sure to consume in moderation. Too much pinene can be overstimulating to those who struggle with anxiety. 

Aroma: Earthy, a forest of pine trees
Nature: Pine needles, dill, parsley, basil, and rosemary
Effects: Alertness, creativity,
Benefits: inflammation, memory, asthma (opens airways), anxiety, pain
Cannabis: Cantaloupe Haze


Leafly Lab tested thousands of cannabis samples and discovered that Myrcene is the most common terpene found in the cannabis plant. Myrcene is found in mangos, hops, and lemongrass. Herbal medicines containing myrcene have a long history of being used as a sleep aid in folk medicine. In Mexico, myrcene-rich lemongrass-infused tea has been used as a sedative and muscle relaxant. Myrcene has been shown to allow cell membranes to absorb more cannabinoids by the brain. This effect of myrcene has been known for nearly fifty years and is the reason it is rumored that eating mangoes before smoking can enhance your high.

Aroma: Earthy, fruity, clove-like
Nature: Sweet Basil, lemongrass, hops, mangoes
Effects: Relaxing, sedating (couch-locking), body high
Benefits: Inflammation, pain, insomnia
Cannabis: Motorbreath OG, Jenny Kush


Limonene has a strong citrus aroma and flavor, sweet yet tangy and bitter. Most commonly found in the highest concentrations in the rinds of citrus fruit. Limonene has been used for a lot of our everyday needs, from giving scents to perfumes and cleaning products to providing positive vibes and gastric relief. These uses include food and medicines that promote weight loss, aid in digestion, prevent gastric distress, and treat depression. It is also an anti-fungal agent, making it the perfect agent to help target athlete’s foot or yeast infections. Most interestingly, limonene has been shown both to stimulate the immune system and be an effective treatment for cancer. Common in Sativa strains.

Aroma: Citrus, lemon, orange, mint
Nature: Fruit rinds, juniper, rosemary, peppermint
Effects: Stress-relieving, uplifting
Benefits: anxiety, gastrointestinal issues, depression, cancer
Cannabis: Gorilla Glue #4, Rainbow Chip

Pinene, Limonene, and Myrcene combined in concentrations over 0.5% can be found in Mandarin Cookies, Sour Diesel, Pineapple Express. 

*We are not medical doctors. Your cannabis research should not end here. Take this extremely condensed information and use it to further your journey in learning about one of the most complex plants we’ve ever consumed.*


What are cannabis terpenes and what do they do?
Terpenes – Cresco Labs

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