Terpenes 101

Terpenes 101

Terpenes are a hot topic of conversation lately, and there’s a lot of information circulating about their enjoyable, aromatic effects. So, we decided to weigh in and offer some insight about our favorite organic hydrocarbons, and show how they influence your unique cannabis experience. 

What are Terpenes?

Enjoying the aroma of a cannabis plant is one of the most pleasant and gratifying parts of being a cannabis enthusiast – and you can thank Terpenes for that. Terpenes are naturally occurring mixtures of carbon and hydrogen (hydrocarbons) that give cannabis plants their unique smell and color. Terpenes are naturally occurring oils inside plants that give them their unique smells and tastes. In cannabis, Terpenes are produced in the trichromes, which are the crystals that cover the leaves and buds of cannabis plants. 

There are over 100 naturally occurring Terpenes that inform the final plant, but they can be broken into four simple categories: sweet, sour, bitter, and spicy. Generally speaking, these specific smells are consistent with certain strains, which in turn shapes the effects of that specific cannabis plant. From there, consumers can begin to better understand and predict the experience of a cannabis plant simply by inhaling its aroma. While Terpenes and their scent don’t offer a perfect representation of a given strain, it is a very consistent indicator about the overall effects. 

Terpenes Vs. Terpenoids

It can be easy to confuse Terpenes and Terpenoids (honestly, it can be easy to misspeak when discussing chemical compounds of any nature) but they are slightly different. Terpenes are naturally occurring, organic hydrocarbons, whereas Terpenoids are Terpenes that have been genetically altered through drying or curing of the plant. The modification process alters the oxygen in the compound, which results in more oxygen functionality and affects the overall effects of the plant. 

What are the Most Common Terpenes?

There are more than 100 different types of Terpenes that naturally occur in cannabis, but there are some that are more popular and dense than others: Linalool, Myrcene, Pinene, Limonene, and Caryophyllene.



Linalool is found in lavender, oregano, grape, green tea, mint, cinnamon, and more than 200 other types of plants. It is recognized by its floral and lightly citrus scent, and is commonly used to relieve stress and as a natural pain reliever.

Scent: Floral, sugary, light citrus scent. 

Common Strains: Sour Diesel, Bubblegum, Locomotion, Amnesia Haze.

Affects: Sedation, anxiety relief, pain relief. 


Myrcene is one of the most common Terpenes found in cannabis, and also one of the most important. That’s because it helps determine whether or not a plant will have sativa or indica-like effects. Generally speaking, if a plant has more than 0.5% Myrcene, it will produce indica-like effects, but, if it contains less than 0.5% Myrcene, the plant will have sativa-like effects. Myrcene is found in mangoes, hops, thyme, lemongrass, and basil. 

Scent: Herbal, earthy, light citrus, slightly like cloves.

Common Strains: Chemdawg, Agent Orange, Grape Stomper. 

Affects: Sedating and relaxing, anti-inflammatory, muscle-relaxer, pain relief. 


Pinene – A-Pinene & B-Pinene

Pinene actually comes in two different classifications: A-Pinene & B-Pinene. A- Pinene is one of the most abundant Terpenes found in nature, and is found in pine trees, pine nuts and sage. Beta-Pinene is less common, and is found in ginger, nutmeg, and sage. Pinene-heavy strains help alertness, offer energy, and help improve memory. 

Scent: Pine, fresh air, woody, a bit like sage.

Common Strains: Lavender, Vanilla Kush, Cookie Cross.

Affects: Alertness, increased energy, anti-inflammatory.



Limonene is the exact Terpene that gives lemons their sweet citrus aroma, and also sweetens the rinds of other citrus fruits like grapefruits, oranges and limes. Strains with a lot of Limonene are typically uplifting, and can greatly improve your mood. Limonene is also great for stress relief and helps with nausea. 

Scent: Citrus, lemon, grapefruit, orange. 

Common Strains: Bubba Kush, Green Crack, Tangerine Dream, Girl Scout Cookies, Super Lemon Haze.

Affects: Stress relief, relieves nausea, anti-anxiety, improves mood. 


Caryophyllene is commonly found in rosemary, pepper corns, hops and cloves, and noted by its spicy, woody aroma. Strains high in Caryophyllene offer uplifting effects, and can help with anxiety and depression.  

Scent: Spicy, woody, peppery.

Common Strains: Tangerine Dream, Sage N Sour, Pineapple Express, Gorilla Glue #4.

Affects: Pain relief, anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety. 

Which Terpene is Right for Me?

So, now that you know more about terpenes, you may be wondering about which is right for you. The answer lies in the experience that you’re seeking, and experimenting with different strains of cannabis that contain high concentrations of one Terpene or another. We suggest keeping a cannabis journal to log your experiences with different strains so that you can better understand Terpenes and their effects. This way, you can learn more about the specific scents associated with popular strains, which empowers you as a consumer to make an informed dank-decision. Also, just be conscious about what strains and terpenes you are ingesting and be mindful of how it makes you feel. Trust your intuition and you will start to learn which terpenes you are drawn to.

Ask the Expert Staff at Mission Cannabis

There are countless combinations of terpenes that produce a beautiful kaleidoscope of cannabis plants for all to enjoy. When considering a new strain, do online research and chat with our staff to learn more about its terpene contents. Use your experience inside of Mission Cannabis to smell new strains of cannabis so that you can understand more about how scent – and terpenes – influence the final product. This will help you find out more about how your body enjoys different Terpene combinations, and make you more equipped to choose the perfect pot for every occasion.