Have you ever picked up some cannabis fresh from the dispensary, crack the jar open and get smacked with a strong berry smell?


Maybe it smelled like fuel instead; or flowers. These smells and the effects associated with them all come from terpenes. But what exactly are terpenes and why are they so important?

What are terpenes?

Terpenes are fragrant oils that are secreted by the resin glands in the cannabis plant, just like THC and CBD. At least eighty different terpenes have been found and analyzed in cannabis. Each terpene has its own unique smell, flavor and affect.

While it may be near impossible to accurately describe every terpene, here are some of the more common terpenes you may smell or taste in your next cannabis purchase.


If you’ve ever heard that eating a mango before smoking will make you higher, myrcene is why. Mangos have the same terpene, myrcene, as cannabis, and ingesting more of the terpene may or may not enhance the specific terpene’s effects. There is no empirical evidence supporting this claim, unfortunately.

Myrcene will usually give off an herbal and citrusy smell, and has been known to produce more relaxing and sedative effects. The myrcene terpene can also act as an antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial. Strains with noticeable myrcene terpenes include Blue Dream and Grandaddy Purple.


For the untrained nose, a lot of cannabis will smell like a pine tree or a dense forest. An experienced cannabis consumer will recognize these features as signatures of the terpene pinene.

With a smell similar to a pine tree or sage, the effects of pinene can impact memory retention and alertness. Strains like Jack Herer and OG Kush have pinene in their terpene profiles, and this specific terpene has shown to aid in treatment of inflammation and even asthma.


Similar to myrcene, limonene is recognized by its strong citrus and lemon scents, without the herbal notes that are found in myrcene. Strains like Sour Diesel and Super Lemon Haze are known to contain this lemon-citrus terpene.

Limonene has acted as an anti-depressant and anti-anxiety strain, and some claim its effects are uplifting while relieving stress. If the next strain you pick up smells like the rind of an orange or lemon, you most likely have limonene in your bud.

Really into terpenes? You can become a certified “interpener” with Max Montrose’s Interpening course at the Trichome Institute and analyze every terpene so you can tell exactly what strain you have, even if the name doesn’t match up.

Learn more about Interpening and Max Montrose’s history with cannabis on The Real Dirt Podcast.