Cannabis is most commonly associated with the chemical compounds found in the plant. Specifically, the cannabinnoids THC and CBD that attach to the endocannabinoid receptors in animals are the reasons this plant is famous for.

This takes away from some of the other, less known features of cannabis. Apart from being a psychoactive drug, cannabis is also an aromatic plant that produces a strong and distinct fragrance. If the cannabis plant was not being used for recreational and medical purposes, it would have still found its use as a fragrant essential oil.

The possible combinations of aromas and flavors that can be created with cannabis are endless. Growers have been able to evolve new varieties and strains that are completely distinct from one another by focusing on a particular smell.

What are Cannabis Terpenes

If you are aware of marijuana usage for medical or recreational purposes you may have come across the term terpenes. If you are not sure what they are, you may be wondering what their deal is.

Terpenese are oily, chemical components that give a plant its unique smell. They are found in the glands of cannabis plant, just like THC, CBD and other cannabinoids. Roughly 10% to 30% of marijuana resin is composed of these aromatic molecules.

Researchers believe that Terpenesdeveloped as a defense mechanism for cannabis and other plants to fight predators or attract insects for pollination.

Oils made from terpenes of other plants have been used by humans for a long time. Lavender terpenes produce a calming and relaxing effect in humans. Rosemary has been known to increase concentration and a feeling of satisfaction.

Types of Marijuana Terpenes

Researchers and oil extractors have found more than 100 different types of terpenes naturally occurring in cannabis. The difference interpene composition give the herb its unique aromatic diversity.

Terpene diversity in cannabis is associated with various strains of cannabis. Some of the more common strains and aromas are listed here.


Myrcene is both a hydrocarbon and a monoterpene. It has a fruity smell with a hint of musk. It is obtained from plants like bay and myrcia and mostly used for creating flavors and fragrances like menthol and citronella etc.

It is most effective as an anti-inflammatory agent and for relaxing muscle-spasms. Most strains of cannabis contain myrcene but Lovrin 110 contains an exceptionally high amount.


It is an organic compound usually derived from a plant like camphor wood.  It has an earthy aroma similar to camphor wood. The compound has been part of Chinese medicine for some time and considered effective for the digestive system, treating coughs and colds, relieving stress, inducing sleep and relieving pain.

The K13 haze strain contains high amount of Borneol according to one medical marijuana researcher.


Limonene is a hydrocarbon that has a fragrance similar to citrus fruits. Limonene is good for creating creams that clear skin, improving metabolism and treating bronchitis. The organic compound has also been observed to be good at preventing cancer.

High levels of Limonene are found in the cannabis strains of Lemon Skunk and Big Bang.


It has a floral scent with a touch of spice. It is usually obtained from a variety of flowers, mint, coriander, cinnamon and fungi. Linalool is used as a scent in perfumed hygienic products and cleaning agents like soaps, detergents, shampoos and lotions.

A typical sample of Amnesia Haze was observed to have around 1% linalool.

Alpha Bisabolol

It is a type of natural monocyclic, colorless oil. Bisabolol has a floral, sweet scent, similar to chamomile tea. Alpha Bisabolol is good for healing wounds, fighting bacteria and reducing a variety of inflammations. The Oracle strain is very rich in this chemical compound.

Delta 3 Carene

This is a bicyclic, colorless monoterpene which has an earthy sweet and pungent smell. A study showed that it has an anti-inflammatory effect and also effective at drying up fluids like tears, running nose and menstrual flows.

Research into more than eighty strains of cannabis plants showed that a majority of them had varying levels of Delta 3 Carene.


This is a natural monoterpene found in many plants and usually obtained from the oak tree. This chemical gives black pepper its distinct spicy taste and also found in carrot seed oil. It has a spicy smell and used as an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent in foods. It has an anti-inflammatory effect and inhibits pro-infammatory cytokines in the body.

The Super Silver Haze and Arjan’s Ultra Haze #1 strains of marijuana contain a high level of Sabinene.


It is a natural, organic monoterpene that has a spicy, minty smell and a cooling taste. It is used in fragrances, cosmetics and food flavors such as baked goods, confectioneries and beverages.

Eucalyptol is used in a variety of mouthwashes, cough suppressants and body powders. It is also used in insecticides to give them a pleasant smell. A number of cannabis strains have shown presence of eucalyptol although the levels are very low, less than 1%.


This produces a smell similar to hops and hoppy seeds. It is used in medicines like caryophyllene which helps reduce anxiety and depression.

The train wreck strain of cannabis contains up to .33% caryophyllene, the highest composition in any variety found to date.


Camphene has an herbal aroma and used in a number of medicines that help fight inflammation in the body. It is naturally higher in indica-based strains.

Terpene Manipulation in Medical Marijuana

Marijuana farmers are always looking for ways to improve the smell and flavor of their produce. They have found many complex ways of enhancing the smell and flavor.

One way to do this is by increasing the quantity of terpenes and terpenoids in the plant buds. A higher number of terpenes enhances the smell and flavor in the extract. However, it should be noted that every unique strain of Marijuana produces distinct smells. While increasing the number of terpenes would make that scent stronger, it would not change the fragrance and add another scent without cross breeding.

Marijuana Strains

Cannabis is a very complex plant and there are endless possibilities to create varying strains with different aromas and flavors. It is even possible to create a different flavor in the same strain by simply enhancing the smell and taste.

All varieties of Marijuana contain the cannabinoid compound THC and CBD. However the unique flavor, taste and smell can really set one sample of blue haze apart from another sample of the same strain.

Marijuana farmers manipulate the composition of cannabinoids and terpenes by changing variables such as soil type, angle and amount of light exposure, timing of harvest and distance between plants and light source.

The three major strains that have developed, based on cannabinoid levels are

  • Sativa
  • Indica
  • Rederalis

The strains of marijuana have further evolved based on differences in cannabinoid levels and variations in terpene aroma and flavor.

Some of the most popular strains of Cannabis are named after their scent and flavor. Consider the following strains and their distinct aromas.

Blue Dream

This is a hybrid strain that has been named after its sweet blueberry flavor and smell. It is one of the most popular strains in the market today. It combines the sweet smell of blueberries, spice and just a hint of pine and tastes nothing short of a pancake.

Black Cherry Soda

Cherry Soda is a strong-scented hybrid strain which is likely to give people a high before even using the drug. It will remind you of overripe cherries and a sugary earthiness that is nothing short of the flavor of cherry cola mixed with sweet syrup and a fair deal of round molasses on top.


Packed with limonene, this strain of cannabis gives a sweet tangy smell reminiscent of California oranges, tangerines with a dash of white pepper and skunk. It is an easily recognizable strain and consumption feels nothing short of drinking orange juice.

Game Changer

This trichome filled strain will bring back memories of slightly sour grape flavor candies and lemonade from your childhood. Aptly named the game changer, it has quickly become popular among marijuana enthusiasts everywhere.

Mint Girl Scout Cookies

A hybrid strain with a crisp minty flavor mixed with a fresh pine aroma that leaves the users with the taste of cookies in their mouth.

Given the ability to create distinct flavors and aromas for marijuana, growers are increasingly looking to isolate and enhance the flavors of the herb in the future.

The Future of Marijuana Terpenes

There are a number of possible uses for cannabis terpenes apart from giving the batch its distinct smell. Research labs and testing facilities are working on creating a profile of terpene composition for different strains. This would help determine the lineage of a particular strain where it is unknown.

Some businesses, like The Werc Shop and Cannabis Biotech, are looking to isolate the terpene compound during cannabis extraction and market pure terpene products in the future.

According to Cannabis experts, terpenes are the most understudied part of the plant and there is a market for products made from cannabis terpenes. Cannabis enthusiasts can vaporize pure terpene extracts made from their favorite strain and mix them to add flavor to finished extracts.

One expert even claims that the future of Marijuana as medicine is dependent on the isolation of terpenes during extraction.