Terpenes: code for flavour

Published on February 14, 2019 by David Wylie

Some have a fondness for myrcene. Others like it more on the limonene side.

Welcome to the foreign language of terpenes.

They’re chemicals in cannabis plants that have notable smells attached to them. Made and stored in the gooey trichomes of the flower. It’s also where you find THC and CBD.

Researchers are still working to discover exactly what they do. It’s not the terpenes that get you high; that’s the THC. Still, there is some evidence that being able to distinguish the aromas and taste of the bud can help us anticipate the effect it will have on us.

Fifteen distinct terpenes are listed by BC Cannabis Stores, with a colour wheel to distinguish them.

Think of them like adding different herbs and spices to your cooking, or using different flavoured hops in craft beer.

A tale of two terps

Myrcene is the most common terpene in cannabis, and more dominant in indica strains.

It’s mellowing. Found in high quantities in mangoes and wild thyme, it’s also in hops, lemongrass, bay leaves, and cardamom.

Myrcene is also present in some beer, contributing a peppery and balsam aroma.

Limonene is the second most common terpene, and often in sativa.

It’s uplifting. Found in citrus rinds, juniper, peppermint, cannabis and rosemary.

Its smell is bright and fruity.