What Are Terpenes?

From the taste of your fruits and vegetables to the aroma that wafts from trees and flowers in bloom,
terpenes are the organic compounds that play a vital role in the flavors and smells we experience daily.

The Essences of Flavor & Aroma

At their core, terpenes, are organic compounds found within a cannabis plant’s resin glands (trichomes) and throughout many other wild plants that are ultimately responsible for the flavor and smell profiles. Terpenes themselves are a naturally-occurring combination of hydrogen and carbon atoms.

From a biological perspective, terpenes are secondary metabolites, meaning they are not directly involved in the normal growth, development, or reproduction of the plant. Instead, they are produced to attract certain insects and animals for pollination purposes or defend against consumption by certain pests and herbivores that may try and consume the plant.

Remarkably, there are more than 50,000 unique terpenes that have been identified to date, and many of them we experience daily. In cannabis, there are around 140 different terpenes which play a vital role in the aroma profiles and effects which vary widely by strain of flower. Importantly, these terpenes naturally occur in many different plants and are not exclusive to cannabis alone.

Terpenes are organic compounds found within a cannabis plant’s resin glands (trichomes) and throughout many other wild plants that are ultimately responsible for the flavor and smell profiles.

Terpenes Versus Terpenoids: What is the Difference?

Though the words terpene and terpenoid are commonly substituted for one another, there is a noteworthy difference between the two. Unlike terpenes which are the naturally occurring compounds produced in a cannabis plant’s trichomes, terpenoids represent an alteration of terpenes that unfolds due to naturally occurring chemical processes.

Just like exposure to oxygen can cause food to spoil, terpenoids are the byproduct of curing or drying that impacts the oxygen content of terpenes, accounting for their difference.

Terpenoids represent an alteration of terpenes that unfolds due to naturally occurring chemical processes.

Focused Impact & Potent Influence

On their own, terpenes deliver proven therapeutic properties that are very potent. However, thanks to the “Entourage Effect” which describes the efficacy of compounds when they interact, terpenes play a vital role in delivering cannabis’ medicinal impact and quality of life enhancements.

Cannabis is known to contain immense amounts of terpenes, with about 140 of these compounds identified in studies of the plant. Although cannabinoids like CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are considered highly active ingredients within cannabis flowers, terpenes play an integral role in the overall effect of these compounds’ benefits.

Cannabis is known to contain immense amounts of terpenes, with about 140 of these compounds identified in studies of the plant.

Terpenes’ Sensitive and Volatile Properties

Terpenes are highly volatile molecules, meaning they can easily evaporate. Although their average boiling point is around 130 degrees Celsius, terpenes begin evaporating at around 65 degrees Celsius.

On a molecular level, terpenes contain 10 carbon units. By comparison, monoterpenes are comprised of 10 carbon units and are the most volatile form of these types of compounds. Sesquiterpenes (the sesqui prefix translates to 1.5) contain 15 carbon units while diterpenes (the di prefix translates to 2) have 20 carbon units, positioning the latter as the heaviest types of terpenes.

Terpenes are lipophilic, meaning they are “lipid lovers” and hydrophobic “water haters” which therefore do not mix well with water. Additionally, terpenes are extremely sensitive to light and oxygen, potentially resulting in damage to the compounds when they are not stored properly. Despite their exceedingly complex and delicate nature, terpenes are still incredibly influential molecules contained within the cannabis plant.

Despite their exceedingly complex and delicate nature, terpenes are still incredibly influential molecules contained within the cannabis plant.

Terpenes’ Unique Role

Between the powerful sensation that arises from fragrances to their attractive and defensive properties and potent interactions with other natural compounds, terpenes play a versatile, vibrant, and dynamic role. Thanks to their unique functionality, terpenes represent one of the most important building blocks for supporting cannabis’ myriad quality of life benefits.

Thanks to their unique functionality, terpenes represent one of the most important building blocks for supporting cannabis’ myriad quality of life benefits.

Explore The Wide Range of Cannabis Flavors & Fragrances –

The Terpiodic Table