Terpene Flavor Guide: Where Cannabis Gets Its Flavor

By Alfonso Colasuonno, researcher and author at Goldleaf Ltd.

Terpenes are found in almost all types of plants. They are mainly responsible for the variety of aromas and flavors in the plant kingdom. Terpenes are simple chemical compounds that help plants defend themselves against threats and attract beneficial species. In Cannabis sativa, terpenes are produced along with the cannabinoids in the resin glands and often work together to enhance or alter the mutual effects.

This list provides information on the most common and abundant terpenes in cannabis, including their flavors and known medicinal benefits. For full instructions and artistic visualizations, see Goldleaf’s terpene infographics.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels


The trademark of this terpene is its floral scent, reminiscent of sharp and sweet wild flowers. It is also found in lavender, laurel, birch, and rosewood. It has calming and calming properties and can help relieve anxiety.

Medical value: analgesic, anti-epileptic, antidepressant, anti-anxiety.


It is known to have a peppery, woody, and spicy aroma. It is the only terpene that has been shown to interact with the endocannabinoid (CB2) system in our bodies. It’s also found in basil, oregano, pepper, and cinnamon leaves.

Medical value: anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antispasmodic, sleep aid.


It’s the most common and abundant naturally occurring terpene and is a major contributor to the tell-tale pine aroma of cannabis. It is also found in many species of conifers and herbs, such as sage. It is known to improve memory and alertness.

Medical value: anti-inflammatory, bronchodilator.

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An introduction to the science of cannabis terpenes and cannabinoidsPhoto courtesy of Trail Blazin ‘


This terpene, known as earthy and musky, is found in almost all cannabis strains. It is known to improve THC absorption and to add to the calming and calming effects often associated with indica. Myrcene is also found in mango, hops, thyme, and citrus fruits.

Medical value: analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, soothing.


This terpene is another powerful contributor to the tell-tale “earthy” aroma of cannabis and is also found in hops and coriander. Humulene can act as an appetite suppressant and offers powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

Medical value: anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, analgesic.


Due to its pleasant aroma, reminiscent of lilac and flower blossoms, it is often used in cosmetic products such as soaps. It is often found in higher concentrations alongside pinene, which unfortunately can mask its odor. It is known to have relaxing effects.

Medical value: antibacterial, anxiolytic, immune stimulating.


This terpene is usually found in higher concentrations in sativa strains and has been linked to elevated mood. It can be found in the rinds of various citrus fruits, juniper, and mint. Limonene has a unique ability to speed up the absorption of other terpenes in the body.

Medical value: anti-anxiety, antidepressant, gastroesophageal reflux, antifungal.

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TerpenesPhoto by Kirill Vasikev / EyeEm / Getty Images


This terpene has a pine aroma with notes of herbs and wildflowers and is widely used in perfumes and as an insect repellent. It is also found in rosemary, sage, and Monterey cypress. Terpinolene has been shown to have antioxidant and carcinogenic effects, as well as a sedative.

Medical value: sedative, anti-tumor.


This terpene creates a wonderfully sweet odor reminiscent of roses. It is found in geraniums, lemons, and tobacco and is widely used in perfumes and other cosmetics. It is also an effective mosquito repellent.

Medical value: neuroprotective, antifungal, antitumoral.


This terpene gets its name due to its high concentration in Valencia oranges and has a citrus-sweet aroma. It’s also found in grapefruits, tangerines, and some herbs. It’s common in many strains of cannabis and has been shown to be a powerful tick and mosquito repellent.

Medical value: * is still being researched.

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What exactly are heirloom marijuana strains?Photo by Elsa Olofsson via Unsplash


It is found in a variety of botanicals and is known for its sweet and woody scent. Plants use ocimen to defend themselves against pests in nature. It’s also found in mint, parsley, pepper, basil, orchids, and kumquats.

Medical value: antifungal agent.


This terpene also has a distinctive floral aroma and is widespread in chamomile. It is likely responsible for many of its medicinal benefits. Due to its antibacterial properties, it can be used for wound healing.

Medical value: antibacterial, anti-inflammatory.


Often associated with the eucalyptus tree, this terpene has an iconic, spicy and fresh scent. It is used in a variety of products such as cough suppressants, mouthwashes, and deodorants and has many proven uses. It is a mainstay in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine.

Medical value: analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, sleep aid.

Sources: National Center for Biotechnological Information (NCBI); SC Labs Inc; “Cannabis sativa: The plant of a thousand and one molecules”, Andre CM, Hausman JF, Guerriero G.

This article originally appeared in the Green Market Report and was republished with permission.

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