What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes give cannabis strains their unique aromas. 


  • Terpenes are fragrant oils found in many types of plants that produce a unique taste and smell. 
  • The tastes and smells of the terpenes in cannabis products have a very diverse range of aromas. Strains can produce a terpene profile that is earthy, woodsy, herbal, spicy, diesel or cheesy, all the way to citrusy or sweet. 
  • Many terpenes are unique to cannabis.  

Cannabis gets its scent from compounds in the plants called terpenes. Terpenes are fragrant oils found in many types of plants, especially coniferous (evergreen) varieties. The chemical compounds they secrete give fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs their signature scents. There are over 100 identified terpenes, many of which are unique to the cannabis plant. 

Although cannabis is often generally associated with a certain musky aroma, each strain of cannabis has its own scent. The individual scent of a strain will be based on the amount and type of terpenes present and which ones are dominant. Terpene scents range from earthy, woodsy, herbal, spicy, diesel or cheesy, all the way to citrusy or sweet. 

Making this equation even more complex, each terpene can itself have multiple aroma profiles. Also, terpene levels can vary from crop to crop, which can lead to inconsistencies in the scents within the same strain. 

Why are Terpenes Important? 

We all have individual preferences for smells and tastes, so knowing the terpene profile of a cannabis product can help you choose one with a scent and flavour profile you’d most likely prefer. 

Since many terpenes are associated with various types of plants and herbs used in naturopathic remedies, some theorize that terpenes play a role in the effect of cannabis. For instance, linalool, a common terpene found in lavender, may be associated with relaxation. Some also believe in the theory of “the entourage effect,” referring to the possibility that cannabinoids and terpenes work together in the overall effect of cannabis. As of now, these are just theories- the impact of terpenes beyond flavour and aroma has yet to be scientifically proven.  

Top 6 Most Common Terpenes Found in Cannabis 

  • LIMONENE – Scents: Lemon or Lime – Found in: Citrus Fruits, Juniper or you.   
  • PINENE – Scents: Pine, Rosemary – Found in: Pines, Conifers, Rosemary, Sage 
  • CARYOPHYLLENE – Scents: Peppery Spice, Wood – Found in: Black Pepper, Cloves, Balsam 
  • TERPINOLENE – Scents: Smoke, Gasoline/Diesel, Wood – Found in: Apples, Cumin, Lilac, Tea Tree Oil, Conifers 
  • MYRCENE – Scents: Musk, Earth, Ripe Fruit – Found in: Mango, Lemongrass, Hops, Thyme 
  • LINALOOL – Scents: Sweet Flowers, Citrus – Found in: Lavender and Many Flowers, Mint, Cinnamon 

Source; Ontario Cannabis Store