Terpenes 101: Your Guide to Cannabis Flavors, Benefits of Terpenes, and How to Get the Most out of Them

Last updated: 6 May 2022

marijuana terpenes

If you’ve smoked more than one cannabis strain in your lifetime, you’ve probably noticed that different marijuana varieties have different flavors, aromas, and effects. What do these all depend on? Let’s not keep it shrouded in mystery any longer – it’s terpenes, aka terps – the chemical compounds found in cannabis that affect each strain’s flavor as well as your high. Excited to learn more in our Terpenes 101? Follow along!

So, What Are Terps?

From a scientific point of view, terpenes are a large and diverse class of organic compounds that are found in many plants, including marijuana. Scientists use the term terpene broadly – it also includes a subgroup known as terpenoids, which are modified terpenes. Terpenoids are terpenes that have been chemically altered after oxidation – for example, during drying and curing. This means that the term "terpenoid" is a more accurate word to use when we discuss the flavor and aroma of the final product of cannabis cultivation, while the term "terpene" is more suitable for living plants.

Weed terps, like cannabinoids, are synthesized inside cannabis trichomes. You can think of terpenes as the "essential oils" of plants, since they’re responsible for their aroma and flavor. There are more than 200 known terpenes found in marijuana, 113 of which are unique to this specific plant.

How Cannabis Terpenes Affect Your High

how marijuana terpenes affect the high

Science already knows why Sativa, Indica, and hybrid strains have different effects on consumers – it depends on the ratio of CBD and THC, but that’s not all! Terpenes also play an important role in each strain’s effects. We’re talking about the so-called entourage effect. Although cannabis terpenes and terpenoids don’t have a psychoactive effect on their own, they contribute to the overall effect of marijuana. Their interaction with cannabinoids is where terpenoids shine. Due to the entourage effect, cannabis terpenes improve the medicinal benefits of THC and CBD and enhance the psychoactive effects of cannabis. They also reduce anxiety and boost energy levels. The best part of this phenomenon is that by consuming certain products while smoking cannabis, you can enhance your high. For example, eating black peppercorns or mangos while smoking weed is known to enhance the effects of marijuana. If you want to learn more about the relationship between weed and mangos, check out our article on the topic.

Most Common Weed Terps Explained

Now that we’ve established what cannabis terpenes are and how they affect your weed high, let’s break down some of the most important terpenes out there, their impact on the effect of cannabis, and some specific terpene-rich strains you can grow to benefit from the medical effects of terpenes that appeal to you the most.

Myrcene – Earthy and Musky

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Myrcene is one of the most widespread marijuana terpenes, and it is equally common in both Sativa and Indica strains. If a strain smells earthy, musky, and incense-like, there’s probably a high percentage of myrcene in it. This terpene is loved by cannabis enthusiasts worldwide because when interacting with cannabinoids, myrcene acts as an amplifier for THC. In what way, you may ask? The thing is, myrcene affects the permeability of cell membranes; it allows more THC to reach brain cells, which increases their rate of absorption. Myrcene is actually why mangos are used to prolong and intensify the weed high, because this tropical fruit has astonishing quantities of myrcene in it, and high doses of myrcene have a relaxing, sedative, and almost narcotic effect.

Tangie'matic Auto (Fast Buds) Tangie'matic Auto (Fast Buds)
  • Autoflowering
  • 23 %
  • 400 - 550 g/m² indoors
    50 - 250 g/plant outdoors
  • Euphoria and flight of fantasy
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Myrcene-Rich Strain: Tangie’matic Auto by FastBuds

Tangie’matic Auto is a typical myrcene-rich strain for an energizing smoking session at any time of the day. Due to the high levels of this terpenoid, Tangie’matic Auto is sure to make you giggly, providing a high that feels stronger and more euphoric than normal. Myrcene also grants this strain some delicious notes of spice, adding to its already complex fruity and citrusy flavor profile.

Limonene – Fresh and Lemony

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It’s pretty obvious from its name that limonene has an intense citrus aroma and sweet taste. This terpene not only boosts energy but also kills pathogens in the human body. Interestingly, the molecular structure of limonene helps it quickly penetrate cell barriers and enhance the action of THC. Limonene is found in large quantities in lemony strains such as Lemon Haze or those of the Diesel family.

CBD Lemon Auto (Herbies Seeds) CBD Lemon Auto (Herbies Seeds)
  • Autoflowering
  • 500 - 600 g/m² indoors
  • 17 %
  • Floating in space
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Limonene-Rich Strain: CBD Lemon Auto by Herbies Seeds

Thanks to the astonishing amounts of limonene produced by its trichomes, CBD Lemon Auto exudes juicy flavors and aromas of lemon and other citrus fruit. Taking a single puff of this strain is like having a cup of coffee in the morning – except the jitters and anxiety – it opens your eyes and makes you feel more active and focused, all thanks to the limonene that’s known for its energizing and high-enhancing properties. A high dose of CBD included in this genetic will also help you relax and easy any aches or pains you might have.

Caryophyllene – Sweet and Woody

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Caryophyllene is one of the most well-known and well-researched terpenes that’s present in weed. It has a sweet aroma of clove with notes of wood. Aside from cannabis, this terpene is also found in black pepper, clove, oregano, and green vegetables. In 2008, it was proven that caryophyllene binds to CB2 receptors in the human body. This discovery is extremely important because it makes caryophyllene the only known terpenoid that directly activates the human cannabinoid system. Caryophyllene has powerful therapeutic properties and is definitely one of the “medical terpenes”. It’s recommended for the treatment of inflammation, bodily pains, muscle tension, and symptoms of autoimmune disorders.

Girl Scout Cookies (Garden of Green) Girl Scout Cookies (Garden of Green)
  • Photoperiod
  • 28 %
  • Creative euphoria
  • 450 g/m² indoors
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Caryophyllene-Rich Strain: Girl Scout Cookies by Garden of Green Seeds

Garden of Green Seeds’ version of Girl Scout Cookies is one of the sweetest strains of the seed bank, all thanks to the caryophyllene present in its flowers. With GSC, you know the weed terps in it will shine bright thanks to the strain’s 28% THC. This cannabis variety is also famous for its medicinal qualities, which users describe as relaxing and euphoric.

Terpinolene – Herbal and Flowery

terpinolene-rich cannabis strains

Terpinolene has an aroma of flowers and herbs, with an easy-to-distinguish pine tree note. Aside from cannabis, it’s found in nutmeg, tea tree, apples, lilac, and more. It’s believed to be an active antioxidant as well as an antibacterial and antifungal agent. It is also a good sedative. As for its entourage effect when consumed with marijuana, it helps to enhance the relaxation that occurs after its use. 

Jack Herer (GHS) Jack Herer (GHS)
  • Photoperiod
  • 20.94 %
  • Powerful multidimensional impact
  • 800 g/m² indoors
    1200 g/plant outdoors
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Terpinolene-Rich Strain: Jack Herer by Green House Seeds

Jack Herer is, without a doubt, an all-time classic strain that practically needs no introduction. One of its signature traits is its tart woody flavor reminiscent of pine tree. This, of course, comes from the terpinolene in Jack Herer’s resin. However, the terpene’s involvement in the strain’s effects doesn’t just end there. Thanks to high amounts of terpinolene fueled up by 21% THC, Jack Herer provides a well-balanced high that will leave your body relaxed and your mind stimulated.

Pinene – Piney and Herbal

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Pinene, the terpene majorly associated with the piney smell of marijuana buds, can also be found in pine needles and a variety of herbs such as basil, parsley, rosemary, and dill. Traditionally, herbalists have been using it to treat physical pains, ulcers, and anxiety. If you’re a fan of relaxing forest hikes, you might want to look for cannabis strains that contain decent amounts of pinene.

GG#4 Original Glue Auto (Glue Auto) (Fast Buds) GG#4 Original Glue Auto (Glue Auto) (Fast Buds)
  • Autoflowering
  • Successive waves of high and stone
  • 450 - 600 g/m² indoors
    70 - 350 g/plant outdoors
  • 24 %
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Pinene-Rich Strain: GG#4 Original Glue Auto by FastBuds

As you’ve probably guessed from the name, GG#4 Original Glue Auto by FastBuds is one sticky and pungent strain. However, thanks to a good share of pinene in this strain, its pungency is balanced out by delicious notes of pine, creating a smoking experience to remember!

Humulene – Earthy and Woody

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Humulene gives cannabis a pronounced smell of wood and earth which, when combined, reminds many people of hops. Actually, this plant is where humulene is found in its biggest quantities. Besides hops and cannabis, the terpene is also present in various spices such as coriander and cloves which, thanks to their humulene content, have often been used as a remedy for inflammation.

Wedding Cake (Barney's Farm) Wedding Cake (Barney's Farm)
  • Photoperiod
  • An energy vortex
  • 24 - 26 %
  • 650 g/m² indoors
    2000 g/plant outdoors
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Humulene-Rich Strain: Wedding Cake by Barney’s Farm

Wedding Cake is well-deservingly one of the sweetest cannabis strains on the planet. While it’s clearly a dessert strain, the sweetness there is not overpowering, because Wedding Cake’s flavor is well-balanced thanks to the earthy humulene. This terpene is also responsible for the strain’s uplifting and balanced effects, making it perfect for daytime use.

Ocimene – Fruity and Herbal 

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Ocimene is one of the sweetest terpenes out there. It has an almost sugary aroma with herbal and woody notes. It is widely found within many plants and flowers, and is one of the most common fruit terpenes that’s found in mangos, kumquats, mint, orchids, parsley, and basil. It’s believed that ocimene’s value lies in its antiviral, antifungal, antiseptic, decongestant, and antibiotic properties, putting it in the group of medical terpenes. One thing to consider if you want to benefit from ocimene in your weed is that it’s quite a delicate terpene and evaporates at only 100ºC. To save it, you therefore need to dry and cure your buds carefully.

Purple Haze Auto (Original Sensible Seeds) Purple Haze Auto (Original Sensible Seeds)
  • Autoflowering
  • 17 %
  • Mind blowing ecstasy
  • 500 g/m² indoors
    150 g/plant outdoors
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Ocimene-Rich Strain: Purple Haze Auto by Original Sensible Seeds

Ocimene is responsible for the sweetness in many strains, but Original Sensible Seeds’ Purple Haze Auto is where you’ll find this terpene at its best! This strain is overwhelmingly fruity and sweet, with effects that leave you euphoric and playful for hours. This is definitely a strain to share with friends since, thanks to ocimene, Purple Haze Auto’s fruity palette and cerebral high is a topic that can be discussed for hours.

Linalool – Delicate and Floral

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Linalool is a terpene that gives marijuana its delicate floral scent and is also found in lavender. Herbalists have traditionally used it to treat anxiety, depression, insomnia, pain, and inflammation. You know how many people keep bouquets of lavender in their bedrooms, and some even put it under their pillow? That’s because the linalool in lavender helps them calm down and fall asleep. The same goes for linalool-heavy cannabis strains that are known for their relaxing and stress-relieving properties.

Sugar Candy (Delicious Seeds) Sugar Candy (Delicious Seeds)
  • Photoperiod
  • 25 %
  • Peaceful warrior
  • 600 g/m² indoors
    2000 g/plant outdoors
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Linalool-Rich Strain: Sugar Candy by Delicious Seeds

If you’re as fond of the lavender scent as we are, take a look at Sugar Candy by Delicious Seeds. It combines notes of Lavandula freshly picked from the fields of Provence, with a refreshing hint of exotic mango fruits. Big quantities of linalool make this strain perfect for winding down after a long day of work, either alone or in a cozy group of close friends.

Eucalyptol – Fresh and Minty

Eucalyptol – Fresh And Minty

Have you ever noticed how fresh and pungent the scent of eucalyptus is? That’s because the percentage of eucalyptol, the main terpene of this plant, can reach up to 90% in eucalyptus oil. It is also found in many plants, including basil, rosemary, sage, and of course, cannabis. It has a minty smell and is believed to have strong soothing properties. 

Gelato (BlimBurn Seeds) Gelato (BlimBurn Seeds)
  • Photoperiod
  • 27 %
  • Deeeply satisfying
  • 500 g/m² indoors
    700 g/plant outdoors
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Eucalyptol-Rich Strain: Gelato by Blimburn Seeds

Gelato, as a family of strains, usually already tastes refreshing. However, Blimburn Seeds’ version of the Gelato cannabis variety takes it to a whole new level with extra production of eucalyptol. If among all of the sorts of Gelato you always pick mint, you’re going to love this strain, which oozes fresh menthol and eucalyptus notes.

Camphene – Pungent and Herbal

marijuana varieties have different flavors, aromas, and effects.

Many cannabis strains, even on our website, are described as pungent. In many cases, the reason for that pungency is the high rates of camphene in the chemical composition of strains. Camphene is a terpene with a pungent odor, which can often be found in small quantities in many widely used oils such as cypress oil, camphor oil, and citronella oil, among others. The predominant fragrance of camphene is spruce needles and moist soil. It is considered useful in bacterial and fungal infections. 

Camphene-Rich Strain: Auto Orange Bud by Dutch Passion

Auto Orange Bud (Dutch Passion) Auto Orange Bud (Dutch Passion)
  • Autoflowering
  • Activation of creativity
  • 400 - 500 g/m²
  • 26 %
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When we say that Auto Orange Bud is pungent, we mean it! The aroma of this cannabis strain is so strong, it pierces through the bud and brings your senses back to life. This trait is provided by camphene and complemented by delicious notes of orange and lime. As for the effects, you can expect a typical Sativa high that’s as uplifting as it is euphoric.

How to Use Terpenes to Get the Most Out of Them?

Interestingly enough, every terpene is evaporated at different rates and temperatures. What does this mean for recreational smokers? It means that to be able to experience all of the above-listed benefits of various terpenes, the temperature of burning cannabis should be high enough to evaporate the terpene, but still stay below the combustion level (starting above 446F/230C). Check out the table below to see every terpene’s evaporation temperature.

How To Use Terpenes To Get The Most Out Of Them

How do you get the exact temperature, you may ask? Dry herb vaporizer pens are perfect for this! Such a device lets you set up a temperature that’s ideal for every single strain and type of experience you’re looking for.

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For example, if you keep the vaporizing temperature between 315˚F/157˚C and 356˚F/180˚C, you’re going to get the most flavor out of your bud and a mild high that’s perfect for daytime. If you set your device for a temperature in the range of 356˚F/180˚C and 426˚F/219˚C, you’ll feel less flavor and aroma, but more mood-enhancement and relaxation. Finally, if you turn your vaporizer’s temperature even higher, you’ll get the least flavor and the harshest smoke. However, all the terpenes and cannabinoids will be involved, meaning you’ll get as high and intoxicated as possible with the strain you use.

Ready to Explore the World of Terpenes?

Now that you know a little more about cannabis terpenes, it’s going to be much easier for you to find a strain you want to grow next. Start with your favorite flavors and effects that you want to experience with your marijuana and find terpenes that appeal to you the most. The great thing is that cannabis strains combine many terpenes at once, so whatever you choose, the journey always remains exciting and rewarding!

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