Stop and Smell the Terpenes

Photo by Celeste Horrocks on Unsplash
Oh, you thought I was going to say roses?

That is the idiom, after all. But what you may not know is that when you do stop to smell the roses, one component of what you are actually smelling is called a terpene.

Simply put, terpenes are aromatic compounds found in flowers, herbs, fruits, veggies, and even some animals like the Swallowtail butterfly. They play an important role in plant health and defense, and terpenes are often used in manufacturing perfumes and cosmetics.

Just like a rose or a handful of freshly picked basil, the scent and taste of cannabis and hemp plants vary. Something as simple as the time of day the flower is picked or the climate it is grown in can affect the number and type of terpenes present. As a result, the flavor of CBD products made from different hemp flower varies as well.

So why have you not heard about them before? Ultimately, terpenes are much more abundant in cannabis and hemp plants than your standard flower or herb. With the hemp and cannabis market growing, consumers are curious why flavors change from plant to plant and batch to batch.

Growers and manufacturers want consumers to understand exactly what they are putting in their bodies. As hemp’s new-found popularity grows, so does our knowledge about its many components. So far, we know that there are over 100 different terpenes that play a key role in determining the benefits and effects of a given strain or product.

Types of Terpenes

A quick browser search can give you a rundown of common terpenes, some of which are listed below with the scent profiles they are most characterized with.

Earthy & Musky (found in thyme and mango)

Spicy (found in black pepper, cinnamon, and oregano)

Pine or forest-y (found in pine needles and basil)

Citrus (found in lemons, as you may have guessed)

Floral with a hint of spicy (found in lavender and birch bark)

Floral (used in perfumes and flavoring)

Earthy, woody, spicy (found in hops)

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