Terpinolene Terpene Guide: Flavors, Aromas, Effects, & Strains


The way cannabis affects the human brain and body is more complex than just the amount of THC or CBD present. In fact, cannabis works best when consumed with its entire parts. What exactly does this mean? 

Well, in addition to the cannabinoids that are unique to cannabis, the plant also contains compounds known as terpenes and flavonoids. These unique ingredients are responsible for things like taste and aroma, but they also work with cannabinoids to produce the entourage effect. 

Terpenes also play a special role in how they affect our mood and, through the entourage effect, intensify the effects of cannabinoids. These precious terpenes live inside the trichomes of cannabis. Yet, we also experience them in many herbs, spices, and foods in the plant kingdom. They’re even in that bitter IPA you may enjoy every once in a while.

Terpinolene is one of those terpenes, and this post discusses terpinolene’s benefits and effects and what it tastes and smells like. Plus, what strains contain terpinolene.

Terpinolene Overview

Terpinolene is a monoterpene that is dominant in only about one out of every ten strains of cannabis. Although it’s not generally in the spotlight, there are usually small amounts present in most strains. It occurs abundantly in nature in various herbs, spices, and trees. 

How to Pronounce Terpinolene

Not to be confused with the word terpene itself, which is pronounced: [tur-peen], you might think the emphasis would remain on the first syllable. However, in the case of terpinolene, it is pronounced: [tur-pin-uh-leen]. Sometimes you might hear the ‘uh’ become a long ‘o’ like: [tur-pin-o-leen]. Both are acceptable ways to pronounce this terpene.

What Is Terpinolene?

Terpinolene is one of over 150 terpenes found in the trichomes of cannabis plants. It is a colorless liquid as an essential oil, but has a complex aroma that is used in many everyday products. Its sweet, piney smell and light, herbal flavor make it a desirable essential oil additive to air fresheners, body care products, foods, beverages, and even cleaning products. Its uses are not merely commercial, as terpinolene provides many health and wellness benefits. 

In cannabis cultivars, we primarily see terpinolene in sativa strains with a higher THC content. It has not yet been found in many high-CBD strains. It’s considered to be slightly sedative, which is due in part to its collaborative effects alongside THC.

Common Terpinolene Effects

Terpinolene works best when combined with other naturally occurring terpenes and cannabinoids. When working in synergy with these compounds, it produces a variety of effects and therapeutic benefits. However, terpinolene derived from plants, herbs, and spices can also provide a myriad of effects and benefits. Here’s a snapshot of some of terpinolene’s best qualities:

  • Reduce Anxiety: Since terpinolene has sedating qualities when used in moderation, it can help relax the body and mind, soothing anxiety and calming stress. 
  • Anti-fungal: Tea tree oil contains terpinolene and is widely used to treat fungal infections on the skin and toenails. It has also been studied for its effectiveness in combating dandruff and yeast.
  • Anti-cancer: Varying doses of terpinolene were used in rat studies to determine its potential to stop the proliferation of brain tumor cells. More research is needed to conclude whether or not terpinolene can achieve the same results in human samples.
  • Improve Heart Health: Another study shows that when combined with other nutrients, terpinolene may reduce the risk of heart disease by preventing the oxidation of LDL cholesterol.

Research surrounding terpinolene is ongoing, and we need more studies to determine how cannabis-derived terpinolene may provide specific and unique benefits to increase individual health and well-being.


Terpinolene Flavors & Aroma

Most terpenes have one very forward flavor and aroma. Linalool is strongly associated with the floral scent of lavender, whereas limonene is citrusy. Terpinolene, however, takes on a combination of scents, including herbal, floral, woody, piney, and even a little bit citrusy. 

What Does Terpinolene Taste Like?

Some of the best ways to describe terpinolene taste are not actually flavors at all. Instead, we like to describe it as tasting fresh and invigorating. When smoking concentrates rich in terpinolene, you can expect a flavor that matches its smell pretty closely. 

What Does Terpinolene Smell Like?

Terpinolene has a multidimensional aroma. It is sweet and piney, with delicate floral and citrus undertones. It is reminiscent of pine needles and is best described as herbal, woody, and piney. 


Foods with Terpinolene

Terpinolene is quite herbal in nature and found in many common ingredients you might find on a spice rack or in an herb garden. With woody characteristics, it’s no surprise that many trees also contain terpinolene. Here are a handful of natural sources of terpinolene: 

  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Lilac
  • Nutmeg
  • Cumin
  • Apples
  • Tea Tree
  • Pine 
  • Fir

Although terpinolene is not one of the top terpenes found in cannabis, there are plenty of strains boasting a fair amount. 

High Terpinolene Strains

Since high terpinolene content is found in only 10% of strains, it can be tough to find something readily available unless you know what to look for. There aren’t many high-CBD strains containing ample amounts of terpinolene, so look for those with higher levels of THC and always ask to see a test result with a terpene profile.

Generally, the following strains contain significant amounts of terpinolene:

  • Jack Herer
  • Super Lemon Haze
  • Dutch Treat
  • Golden Goat
  • Black Cherry Pie
  • Golden Pineapple
  • XJ-13
  • Ghost Train Haze
  • Chernobyl
  • Sensi Star
  • Sour Tangie
  • Snowcap
  • Sour Tsunami
  • Afghani

There are several crosses of these genetics with high levels of this bright, juicy terpene so just ask your budtender what they recommend if you’d like to try something new. 

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