Terpenes, what exactly are they?
Terpenes are aromatic compounds naturally produced by not only the cannabis plant, but other plants, herbs, fruits, and fungi. Aromatic compounds, at the molecular level, are flat, ring-shaped molecules. The ring shape makes these compounds incredibly stable, meaning they don’t usually react with other molecules. However, just because a molecule doesn’t easily react with other molecules doesn’t mean it cannot have profound effects on the mind and body.
Cannabis Evolution and the Terpene
Plants likely evolved terpene production millions of years ago as both a natural defense and to enhance the plant’s ability to reproduce. As a defense, some pests find terpenes like linalool and pinene incredibly offensive. Other terpenes, like myrcene and limonene, attract pollinators like bees.
Cannabis contains a multitude of terpenes, which, altogether, confer several benefits to the plant. Studies show that pollinators such as bees can tell the difference between one kind of plant compared to another based on terpene scents alone. Since most cannabis strains produce natural pesticides and pollinator-attractors like linalool, pinene, myrcene, and limonene, the evidence indicates that the cannabis plant evolved over the years to produce terpenes that entice certain advantageous species and animals while repelling others that can hurt it, ensuring its survival and propagation in the wild.
Cannabis consumers have grown pickier about what kinds of weed they want to smoke, and some seek out specific strains for their trademark flavors and bouquets. That alone ensures highly aromatic plants such as Blue Dream, Tangie, Strawberry Cough, and Chem Dog forever remain on dispensary menus. Essentially, the rich terpene contents of many weed plants ensure their survival and propagation within the regulated industry.