We’ve only started to scratch the surface of understanding the full potential of cannabis, but there’s one thing we do know for sure: terpenes are essential. 

Most of us know to look at THC and CBD percentages when we’re exploring new cannabis strains. But while those are decent (and traditional) indicators of a strains’ effects, our expert budtenders say there’s an unsung hero that might have more of an impact on your cannabis experience. 

These mysterious compounds are called “terpenes,” which help create the unique smells, shades – and experience – of individual cannabis strains. But what are cannabis terpenes? And why should you care?

Read on to learn how terpenes might be the secret to predicting your next cannabis experience.

What Are Cannabis Terpenes?

When we say cannabis terpenes, what do we mean? Put simply; terpenes are a naturally occurring compound responsible for the flavors, scents, and colors of certain types of vegetation, including cannabis.

Like many other plants, cannabis produces terpenes to repel predators and attract pollinators with their sweet aroma. However, many different factors impact how and why a cannabis plant has terpenes, including the soil type the plant grows in, the weather it experiences, and even the time of day it blooms! So far, researchers have identified over one hundred distinct terpene varieties in cannabis (every strain produces its own unique composition).

What Do Cannabis Terpenes Do?

Terpenes are most known for the flavors they impart to our favorite cannabis strains. For example, a strain like Lightshade’s popular Blueberry Headband is packed with terpinolene and pinene, two terpenes that give the strain its distinctive sweet berry undertones. 

But some researchers believe that cannabis terpenes might interact with THC to produce a distinctive effect. This is one theory about why strains with the same proportions of CBD and THC have unique effects, depending on the terpenes they contain.

Some individual terpenes are considered psychoactive like THC and interact with the brain’s endocannabinoid receptors. While they’re not intoxicating alone, these terpenes might help intensify the effects of THC. In addition, some preliminary research suggests that terpene content could help make particular strains more beneficial to specific unique mental health conditions.

Popular Cannabis Terpenes You Should Explore

With such a vast world of terpenes to explore, it can be challenging to know where to start! So to help kick off your terpene adventures, we’ve consulted with our expert budtenders to discover the most popular cannabis terpenes and the effect each one creates.


Sweet with a delicately herbal aroma, Myrcene is also found in mangos, lemongrass, and hops. It creates a soothing, calming effect that promotes a relaxing yet euphoric experience. A myrcene heavy strain like The White creates a potent sensation, perfect for indulging in on a relaxing evening unwinding with friends.

mangos and flowers


The scent of pinene reminds many enthusiasts of a noble fir forest – which makes sense because this terpene is commonly found in many pine species. It also appears in herbs like basil, dill, and rosemary and has a calming, subtle aroma. Blue Dream is one of the best-known pinene strains, offering a perfectly relaxing experience with energetic undertones.

basil, rosemary, and dill


Just as the name suggests, limonene has a deliciously citrusy flavor. Found in citrus fruits and herbs like rosemary, juniper, and peppermint, limonene is a lively terpene that brings a little zest to any cannabis experience. A limonene strain like Mother’s Milk is perfect for kicking back and getting creative – get ready to break out that sketchbook!

citrus fruit: lemons, limes, oranges


This terpene has a peppery, slightly spicy kick, which makes sense, given that it naturally occurs in black pepper, cinnamon, and cloves. Some caryophyllene fans say the taste reminds them of the perfect cup of chai. A caryophyllene strain like Orange Herijuana is right at the balance of soothing and energizing, making it the ideal companion for a long walk through nature.

Perfecting Your Cannabis Experience 

These four popular varieties are just the beginning of the beautiful world of terpenes – each with its own distinct flavor profile and effect. Once you begin looking out for them, you’ll find terpenes everywhere. And by paying attention to what terpenes create an effect you enjoy, you can mix and match to create your ideal cannabis experience. 

Need help finding your new favorite strain? Drop by any of our Colorado Dispensary locations, and our budtenders will guide you to a product you’ll love!