What are Terpenes?

January 5, 2021


The dictionary definition of “Terpenes” is: any of a large group of volatile unsaturated hydrocarbons found in the essential oils of plants, especially conifers and citrus trees.  They have a strong odour and taste, which in the wild are used as defense mechanisms against hungry herbivores.  Marijuana Terpenes are produced in the bud’s resin glands along with cannabinoids like THC and CBD.  


Terpenes can be found in a wide array of plants.  They are what give fruits their taste and flowers their smell.   



Limonene is the main terpene in citrus fruits like lemons, limes and oranges, and is also the dominant terpene in cannabis strains like Lemon Haze, Silver Haze and Pineapple Express.   Pulegone, Menthol, Cineole/Eucalyptol, and Myrcene are all members of the Mint family of terpenes, while the different tastes of black pepper are attributed to its Caryophyllene and Sabinene Terpenes.  The Piney smell and taste of certain cannabis strains is a result of the terpene Pinene, which also happens to be the dominant terpene in Pine Trees, Needles and Resin.  

Many, if not all of the terpenes from the Mint and Pepper families can also be found in cannabis.  Terpenes are what give each marijuana strain their distinct smells, flavours and even have a profound effect on the high.  That’s right, the terpenes have an effect on the high.  Think of the marijuana as a car and the terpenes as the steering wheel.  You know that once you smoke the cannabis, you will take a trip, but it’s up to the terpenes in each strain to act as your steering wheel.  


Through a distillation process, it is possible to isolate terpenes from the cannabis.  This allows for the user to mix terpenes together that would not be found on the same strain naturally.  Through chemistry, we are now able to mix terpenes found in three separate cannabis strains together to produce a holy trinity of a hit, not known in nature!