While the cannabis plant dates back thousands of years, we’re still learning about all of the compounds it contains and how they affect the human body. Terpenes contribute to the smell of your cannabis, but they may have other benefits, too.

Here’s a rundown on terpenes and how they can enhance your experience with cannabis.

An Introduction to Terpenes

Terpenes are aromatic compounds that occur naturally in a wide variety of plants. They’re responsible for the unique smells and flavors of plants and herbs, including pine, black pepper, lavender, and citrus fruits. You’ve smelled a strong concentration of terpenes if you’ve ever sniffed an essential oil.

Terpenes are naturally occuring, and they do a great deal to help plants thrive in the wild. Some terpenes attract pollinators, while others repel harmful pests. Some terps help plants recover from damage, and they may even keep away infectious germs to keep them healthy.

Terpenes & Cannabis

Terpenes are strongly associated with cannabis, and for good reason. Each strain of weed has its own unique aromas and flavors, and this is largely due to their terpene content!

The marijuana plant contains over 150 types of terpenes, making them a powerhouse in the plant’s construction and uses. Most only occur in small doses, but they can have huge benefits for cannabis enthusiasts.

Terpenes are found in the trichomes of female cannabis plants. Trichomes are the tiny, sticky hairs you’ll see on your bud. The terpenes give color and pigmentation to the leaves and buds of the plants, which attract pollinators while deterring harmful pests.

Cannabis plants with more terpenes will generally have a stronger flavor and more distinctive aroma. There are many factors that affect the amount of terpenes each batch of flower will contain, including indoor vs. outdoor growing, temperature, exposure to light, nutrient levels, and harvesting method.

You might have also heard of terpenoids, but they’re not quite the same. Terpenes are present in the live plant. When they dry and cure, the terpenes oxidize into terpenoids. In most cases, terpenes and terpenoids are used interchangeably.

A budtender at your favorite Massachusetts dispensary can tell you about the terpenes in your favorite strain of weed, and help you pick bud that will smell and taste how you want it to!

Cannabinoids vs. Terpenes

Cannabinoids and terpenes are both chemical compounds that are integral to the composition of the cannabis plant. However, they differ in some key ways.

Cannabinoids don’t have a specific smell like terpenes, so they can be harder to identify without information from a great recreational dispensary. Cannabinoids are processed by the endocannabinoid system, and are more easily tracked to specific changes in your mood or body sensations when using weed.

The most common cannabinoids are THC and CBD. THC is the chemical responsible for getting you high when you smoke, while CBD can relax your body and provide pain relief. Many weed strains have both, and you can also purchase CBD on its own or cannabis flower with no CBD.

Research has shown that cannabis is more effective when consumed as a whole, rather than just experiencing the effects of THC or CBD. The entourage effect is the name for the fact that all of the compounds in cannabis work together to create a unique experience. Keeping the powerful terpenes in cannabis preserves its natural properties.

Many budtenders at recreational dispensaries recommend consuming the full cannabis plant or full spectrum CBD. This ensures it still contains all of its best terpenes and minor cannabinoids. That’s why smoking flower might produce a different effect from a tincture or vape cartridge.

The Most Common Terpenes

Here are some of the most common terpenes that you’ll find in the cannabis plant. They’re also the easiest to identify when you’re smelling different strains at your favorite cannabis dispensary in Massachusetts.


Myrcene is one of the most common terpene profiles found in cannabis. It’s also in mangos, thyme, and lemongrass. It smells like cloves with an earthy, fruity aroma.

A recent study suggests that myrcene may work as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and pain reliever. It might even help protect the brain from oxidative damage after a stroke!


It’s easy to recognize the scent of limonene in your cannabis. It distinctly smells like a lemon or orange peel.

Limonene is a powerful terpene, which may work as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It may also help patients with diabetes and cancer. Some scientists are hoping that it could work as a powerful antiviral, too.


Pinene is one of the most common terpenes found in nature. You’re most likely to recognize it when you smell pine needles, rosemary, and basil. Once you’ve smelled it in a cannabis strain, it’s easy to identify again.

This terpene has shown anti-inflammatory properties in the lab, and may also prevent ulcers and improve airflow into the lungs.


You’ll recognize the smell of beta-caryophyllene from plants like cloves, rosemary, and hops.

In addition to anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, it may also help heal wounds. However, studies are still in the animal stages.

Other common terpenes to look out for at your nearest dispensary include:

  • humulene
  • geraniol
  • terpinolene
  • ocimene
  • nerolidol
  • phytol
  • linalool

Learn More at Gage Cannabis Co in Ayer, Massachusetts

At Gage, we want to teach you about the ins and outs of terpenes. When you enter our dispensary, you’ll step up to our signature Aroma Bar.

You’ll meet one-on-one with one of our best “terp-tenders,” who will teach you about terpenes and let you smell them individually and in different cannabis strains. They’ll help you figure out what you like and which terpenes suit your needs!

Ready to enjoy the best cannabis in Ayer? Check out our dispensary menu and pre-order your first terpene-rich flower today!

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