Terpenes 101 – Guide to Terpenes and Cannabinoids

Cannabis flower (white critical strain) with visible trichomes

When it comes to shopping for cannabis at a Cambridge dispensary, most people are considering the THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) content of flower. While cannabinoid content is no doubt the most important aspect to consider in terms of potency, terpenes are important to consider as well.

Cannabis terpenes have something to do with everything from the flavor and aromatics of flower to the end effects. But what are terpenes exactly and what do they do? Take a look at the details to get you started as an educated cannabis consumer below.


What are terpenes?

Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in cannabis and other plants in the natural world. These compounds give cannabis strains their distinct odors and flavors. For example, terpenes are responsible for the pungency of Garlic Breath and the citrus-laden aroma of Lemon Sour Diesel. In fact, all the best cannabis flowers in VT are rich in different terpenes.

In nature, terpenes serve different roles for the plant. For instance, some terpenes help attract pollinators, while others may work to keep insects away. And the average person experiences terpenes every day even without being around cannabis. Terpenes are responsible for the bright smell of orange peel and the dank musk associated with the forest.

How do terpenes affect your overall experience with cannabis?

While THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids are the most important elements when it comes to the effects of cannabis, terpenes play a role as well. As mentioned earlier, terpenes affect how cannabis smells and tastes when it is smoked or vaped. However, terpenes also have complementary effects when consumed with cannabinoids, due to what researchers refer to as the entourage effect.

A Look at the Most Dominant Cannabis Terpenes

In cannabis alone, scientists have been able to isolate at least 400 unique terpenes. While cannabis is one of the most fragrant and terpene-rich plants on the planet, there are certain terpenes that show up in strains more frequently. Below is a look at a handful of the most dominant terpenes found in cannabis, their typical flavor/aromatic notes, and their potential effects.


  • Flavor/aromatics: Sweet and fruity with spice
  • Effects: Relaxing and sedating

Myrcene is thought to have sedating properties, and this terpene just happens to be one of the most prevalent in cannabis. You can also find myrcene in mangoes, cardamom, and basil.


  • Flavor/aromatics: Pepper and herbs
  • Effects: Soothing and uplifting

Caryophyllene (scientifically beta-caryophyllene) is the second top cannabis terpene. This terpene is also found in cloves and hops, which explains why it is associated with a spicy, almost herbal, or peppery flavor. Caryophyllene is thought to have mood-boosting properties.


  • Flavor/aromatics: Citrus
  • Effects: Anxiety reducing

Limonene is one of the most abundant terpenes in nature and is also commonly used in commercial products. Limonene is relatively easy to point out due to its telltale citrus aromatics. The smell is thought to be uplifting and good for anxiety.


  • Flavor/aromatics: Floral and herby
  • Effects: Emotionally calming

Linalool is found in lavender, rose, and a few other plants in nature. This herbaceous-smelling terpene leans into floral notes in terms of flavor and aromatics. Linalool is thought to offer calming effects.


  • Flavor/aromatics: Piney, herby, and somewhat fruity
  • Effects: Relaxing

Terpinolene is a multidimensional cannabis terpene when it comes to aromatics, but is thought to have relaxing properties. This one terpene can take on a number of different flavors and aromatic notes, sometimes even smelling a bit like citrus fruit. Terpinolene is also found in lilac, rosemary, and certain conifer trees.


  • Flavor/aromatics: Spices and herbs
  • Effects: Sleep promoting

Humulene is not quite as common as other cannabis terpenes, but this terpene can also be found in herbs like ginseng. Humulene is thought to have almost hypnotic, sleep-inducing properties.

Explore Terpene-Rich Strains at Cambridge Cannabis Company

At Cambridge Cannabis Company, we work with the top cannabis cultivators in the state to secure only top-shelf flower. Flower that is grown and harvested with high standards makes it to our dispensary in Cambridge with as many terpenes as possible still intact. Ready to find your favorite terpene-rich cannabis strains? Take a look at the expansive flower collection on our menu.


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