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Even with your eyes closed, it’s not hard to tell cannabis from other plants. Even individual strains of cannabis can be distinguished by their strong aromas. Some smell skunky and others piney or sweet. They’re all laid out on a cannabis terpene chart. Ready to get a bigger whiff? Keep reading.

Terpenes 101

Terpenes are compounds found naturally in the cells of the cannabis plant. Part of the natural evolution process, the aroma attracts bees and keeps other bugs from feeding on the plant. But scientists have discovered other benefits for mammals.

More than 100 different individual terpenes have been identified in the cannabis plant. The different smells vary due to the geographic location of the plant over time, including climate and soil composition. How a plant smells might even differ from morning to night time.

Terpenes include the earthy-smelling myrcene, which can be responsible for the sensation known as “couch lock.” Pinene has been shown to have anti-inflammatory benefits along with a piney scent. While citrusy limonene works to support a healthy appetite.

How to Choose Your Terpene

A cannabis terpene chart, also known as a flavor wheel, helps you differentiate among all the terpenes. Think of it as a tool that can provide information about what to look for when you head to the dispensary. You can work outward from the smells, which are broken down into spicy, sweet, sour, and earthy. Or inward from the effect associated with the terpene.

For example, the green “earthy” quadrant of the chart contains information on eight terpenes that have smells classified as floral, piney, herbaceous, and perhaps a little fruity. Interested in stress relief, euphoria, or sleepiness? The chart points you to a strain that is high in either terpinolene, a-caryophyllene, or nerolidol. Prefer cannabis to provide you feelings of focus? Terpenes like valencene, limonene, a-phellandrene, menthol, or bergamottin are worth looking for.

cannabis terps

The Entourage Effect

Some charts have the names of cannabis strains wrapped around the outside of the wheel to help you connect some popular options to try. However, many dispensaries offer information about the laboratory reports that specify the different terpenes found in the classic or hybrid strain.

Of course, cannabis is not simply aromatherapy. Terpenes are able to work uniquely with other compounds of the cannabis plant to offer you what is known as the “entourage effect.” Cannabinoids, like THC and CBD, plus flavonoids, and other parts of the plant, combine to provide more biochemical effects together than separately.

For example, if you purchased an edible that is made from extracted THC, the effects would be different than if that THC was consumed with the rest of the plant.

There are extraction methods used to create everything from cream to edibles to wax that utilize the entire plant. This process is frequently marketed as “full-spectrum,” rather than an isolate.

As scientists continue to study cannabis, they offer a greater understanding of how all the compounds—including terpenes—play a role in the different strains. With the cannabis terpenes chart, you can use this science to receive the benefits you seek.