Terpene Trends: The Nose Knows

By: Kelsey Cannabis

If you have ever noticed how cannabis can smell different, just like flowers have different flavours and notes, then you know that terpenes are meticulously at work.

Terpenes are fragrant oils secreted by a plant as they combine to create distinct aroma and flavour profiles. These building blocks of a plant’s smell and taste are multifaceted in their therapeutic benefits based on the number of terpenes found naturally within the plant kingdom. Since legalization began, we have seen prominent cannabis terpenes ranging from sleepy myrcene to energizing limonene to relaxing linalool.

While all amazing in their own right, prominently found terpenes usually make others drop off the radar since they will never dominate a terpene profile in the same capacity. Still, it does not mean that non-dominant terpenes lack therapeutic effects. As our baseline of cannabis knowledge expands year over year, so does our understanding of the many terpenes available in our products, and we are noticing some new terpenes showing their faces around town.

“As our baseline of cannabis knowledge expands, we are noticing new terpenes.”


Ocimene assists plants in their defence system against insects and is utilized in the fragrance industry for its aromatic floral profiles. This terpene, found in orchids to parsley, acts as a protective agent with anti-viral and anti-fungal properties, and displays a sweet woody aroma with intoxicating citrus to herbaceous flavours.


Named after Humulus lupulus, aka the hops plant, this bitter terpene is earthy, hoppy, and has a faint note of spice. Used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, humulene, also known as α-caryophyllene, has analgesic and appetite-suppressing properties. With its earthy nuances, humulene gives cannabis and beer a distinctive profile.


Guaiol is a potent anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory agent. This less abundant but impactful terpene is employed as a pest repellant and is known to be effective in fighting bacterial infections. Also found in conifers, tea trees, and lilacs, guaiol’s characteristic scent emits a pleasant woody and fruity aroma with floral undertones and a sweet, fruit-like taste.


Terpinolene, a captivating, multi-dimensional terpene, offers a lovely herbal scent with slight hints of pine and citrus flavours. Many industries use this terpene in cosmetic and soap products because of its fresh fragrance. Also found in rosemary and nutmeg, terpinolene delivers a natural sedating effect that reduces anxiety and calms stress.


Back in the 19th century, camphene was used for fuel in lamps as it was more affordable than whale oil. This terpene is in citronella, Douglas fir, and sage, and its strong, pungent aroma is reminiscent of wet pine needles on a forest floor. With waxy and musky undertones, it is no surprise that camphene is used in many essential oils and food flavourings, as it proposes anti-microbial, anti-oxidant, and pain-relieving effects.


Not only found in cannabis but in cedarwood, chamomile, and turmeric, this natural pest repellent acts as a pheromone to repel unwanted critters. Farnesene offers several notes, from sweet to berry, all strongly reminiscent of apples. This terpene also offers therapeutic value to soothe the mind and act as a muscle relaxant, as it surpasses the blood-brain barrier and enters the brain tissue.

With more than 20,000 known varieties of terpenes found in fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers, it is no surprise that terpenes play a significant role in the cannabis industry. And whether you are a cannabis connoisseur or just starting to explore this plant’s vast potential, there is a profound range of terpenes offering revitalizing effects that are just waiting to be explored.