Characterizing terpenes and other natural products in CBD hemp

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Camila Filgueiras, Denis Willett, Ali Cala, Chris Smart, Larry Smart

Line drawings of the common organic terpene chemicals found in hemp.


Terpenes are fragrant compounds produced by the hemp plant for defense against insects and pathogens that give hemp its distinctive smell and taste. In addition to playing a protective role in plant defense, these compounds are important to consumers as they can interact with CBD and alter flavor profiles.

Production and Importance

Plant variety, health, production method, stage and pathogen infection influence terpene production. We are conducting trials to evaluate different stresses and production methods on terpene profiles and the profiles of other natural products in hemp.

Testing Procedure and Assessment

Our lab uses chromatography and mass spectrometry to identify and quantify amounts of terpenes and other natural products in hemp. We can do this by extracting chemicals directly from the leaves or by sampling fragrance profiles by collecting and analyzing smells given off by the plant.

Common Terpenes Found in CBD Hemp

TerpeneAromaVaporizes at (°F)Found in
PinenePine311Pine needles, Rosemary, Basil, Parsley, Dill
MyrceneCloves, Earthy, Herbal332Mango, Lemongrass, Thyme, Hops
LimoneneCitrus348Fruit rinds, Rosemary, Juniper, Peppermint
CaryophyllenePepper, Spicy, Woody, Cloves266Black pepper, Cloves, Cinnamon
HumuleneWoody, Earthy222Hops, Coriander, Cloves, Basil
OcimeneSweet, Herbal, Woody122Mint, Parsley, Pepper, Basil, Mangoes, Orchids, Kumquats
TerpinolenePine, Floral, Herbal366Nutmeg, Tea tree, Conifers, Apples, Cumin, Lilacs

Chart adapted from an infographic at

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