How to read a cannabis label: Common terpenes

Published on January 13, 2023 by David Wylie

Photo: David Wylie/the oz.
Some of the information that's commonly found on regulated cannabis labels, including THC, CBD, minor cannabinoids, and terpenes.


This is part of our ‘How To Read The Label’ series. We decode the language and figures used on Canadian legal cannabis labels to help you better understand the information you’re seeing.

Stories in this series:


Terpenes have always been part of our everyday lives.

We just didn’t really talk about them until they became entrenched in the modern-day legal-cannabis lexicon.

All plants produce terpenes. They are the oils that give off their scent.

More than 100 terpenes have been found in cannabis, and different strains have different combinations.

Here are some of the highlights on seven terpenes most commonly found in cannabis.

7 common terpenes on cannabis labels:

A close image of a pine tree Photo: Adobe/the oz.
Pinene is associated with feeling energized, alert, and creative.


As the name suggests, pinene smells like pine. It also occurs in rosemary, basil, parsley, and dill. Pinene is the most common terpene in nature, as it’s an effective insect repellant. Pinenes (there are both alpha-pinene and beta-pinene) are used to make turpentine.

Vaporizes at 155 C/311 F.


Mango tree with ripening fruits Photo: Adobe/the oz.
Myrcene can feel sedative. Mangos are one of the many plants that contain myrcene.


Mangos, lemon grass, thyme and cardamom are some of the plants that contain myrcene. It has an earthy, herbal, clove flavour. It’s one of the most common terpenes found in cannabis plants.

Vaporizes at 167 C/332 F.

ripe orange mandarins on a small tree in the gaden Photo: Alevtina-Adobe/the oz.
Limonene can feel euphoric. It's bright and citrusy.


Limonene has a distinct citrus flavour, particularly oranges. It’s found in citrus fruit peels, as well as caraway and dill. Its name comes from the Italian word for lemon—limone. It’s widely used as a dietary supplement, flavouring, and in cosmetic fragrances.

Vaporizes at 176 C/348 F.

Close-up image of black pepper on white background Photo: Nikola Bilic/Adobe/the oz.
Caryophyllene is a proven painkiller. It's spicy as pepper and as clove.


As one of the chemical compounds that gives black pepper its smell, caryophyllene has a spicy flavour that’s also found in cloves and cinnamon. (Fun fact: you could call caryophyllene the ‘NARC’ of the terpenes, as it’s the smell that drug sniffing dogs pick up on.) It’s been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect.

Vaporizes at 176 C/348 F.

Photo: Adobe/the oz.
Often associated with lavender, Linalool is calming and uplifting.


Linalool is a floral scent, often associated with lavender. It’s also found in spice plants, like coriander, which can add some spicy depth. As a popular scent, Linalool is used commercially to make soaps, fragrances, and food additives.

Vaporizes at 176 C/348 F.

Fresh hops growing on a vine Photo: Adobe/the oz.
Humulene is a terpene associated with healing and inflammatory effects.


Found in the flowering cone of the hops plant, humulene is like a heady IPA, but not too bitter. It’s a compound also prominent in tobacco, sage, and ginseng. Humulene is being studied for its underlying anti-inflammatory effects.

Vaporizes at 225 C/379 F.

German chamomile grows wild Photo: Adobe/the oz.
Soothing, calming bisabolol is found in medical cannabis strains.


Bisabolol is reminiscent in smell and taste of chamomile. High concentrations can be found in medicinal cannabis strains. It is subtle and floral. Its smell is also compared to to apples, sugar and honey.

Vaporizes at 119 C/246 F.



Thank you to Edison Cannabis Co. for the well-designed Terpene Guide that looks like a Pantone colour tool. And also to Wikipedia, which was a great resource in describing the different terpenes.