Three pinecones. Text reads: "Terpene Spotlight: Terpinolene"

As research explores all the potential benefits of hemp, there is an increased public interest in learning more about the active compounds beyond just CBD and THC. Terpenes feature prominently in the discussion about how hemp can make you feel and they play a major role in how hemp smells.

There are dozens of terpenes found in hemp flowers, and one of the least common terpenes is called terpinolene (“ter-pin-oh-leen”). But just because it’s not typically found in high concentrations, doesn’t sideline it. In fact, some of Sunset Lake CBD flower cultivars like the 2021 Sour Lifter and 2021 Super Sour Space Candy are quite high in terpinolene!

In this post we’ll discuss the following:

  • What is terpinolene 
  • Where terpinolene can be found in nature 
  • And, what research says about its potential benefits

What Are Terpenes?

Before jumping into terpinolene, let’s take a moment to explore what terpenes are in general. Terpenes are aromatic, volatile hydrocarbons found in many plants and in some animals. Terpene molecules are composed of small units called isoprenes and terpenes are classified by the number of isoprene units they contain. The most common terpenes are monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and diterpenes.

Terpenes play a key role in the scent of many plants. You may already be familiar with many terpenes but might not know their names. 

Examples of terpenes include:

  • Pine trees contain a lot of (what else) pinene 
  • Lavender gets its relaxing scent from linalool
  • Hops and mangos get their aroma from myrcene

What Is Terpinolene?

Terpinolene is a monoterpene comprised of just two isoprene units. This sweet-smelling terpene is found in apples, cumin, lilacs, nutmeg, conifer trees, tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia), and hemp. It is also one of the components of turpentine, which is a product made from fir trees.

Fun fact: The word “terpene” is derived from the word turpentine, which is composed primarily of pinene, carene, camphene, dipentene, and terpinolene.

Terpinolene has a fresh, sweet chemical smell with notes of pinecones, apples, citrus, flowers, and pine sap.

Terpinolene is typically found in small concentrations in hemp flower and is rarely the dominant terpene in a given cultivar. Hemp cultivars feature a wide array of terpenes and the dominant terpene is the one with the highest concentration in that specific cultivar. Below, we will discuss which of our hemp cultivars have terpinolene as the dominant terpene based on laboratory analysis.

Terpinolen smells like, is dominant in, and is found in infographic

What Is Terpinolene Used For?

Terpinolene is used in many consumer goods like soaps, cosmetics, and perfumes. Aside from commercial uses, there is currently a wide array of ongoing research into how it affects the human body.

Terpinolene’s potential benefits may include:

  • antioxidant 1,2,7
  • sedative 1,3
  • anti-inflammatory 8
  • antibacterial & antimicrobial 4
  • antifungal (as part of tea tree oil) 5,6
  • larvicide 7
  • insecticide 7

While research is ongoing, the jury is still out on what potential benefits terpinolene can offer.

Sunset Lake CBD Cultivars Featuring Terpinolene

Our hemp cultivars naturally contain a wide range of terpenes. We send samples of our hemp flowers to a third-party laboratory for testing to determine their terpene composition*. Here are our top cultivars that feature terpinolene as their dominant terpene:

Super Sour Space Candy – 1.06% terpinolene

Sour Lifter – 0.59% terpinolene

*Note: the percentage of terpenes is reported on a by-weight basis.


  1. Ahmad, Samoon, and Kevin P. Hill. Medical Marijuana: A Clinical Handbook, Wolters Kluwer, Philadelphia, 2021, p. 115, 278t.
  2. Grassmann, J., Hippeli, S., Spitzenberger, R., & Elstner, E. F. (2005). The monoterpene terpinolene from the oil of Pinus mugo L. in concert with alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene effectively prevents oxidation of LDL. Phytomedicine : international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology, 12(6-7), 416–423.
  3. Ito, K., & Ito, M. (2013). The sedative effect of inhaled terpinolene in mice and its structure-activity relationships. Journal of natural medicines, 67(4), 833–837.
  4. Habibi, Z., Eshaghi, R., Mohammadi, M., & Yousefi, M. (2010). Chemical composition and antibacterial activity of essential oil of Heracleum rechingeri Manden from Iran. Natural product research, 24(11), 1013–1017.
  5. Yu, D., Wang, J., Shao, X., Xu, F., & Wang, H. (2015). Antifungal modes of action of tea tree oil and its two characteristic components against Botrytis cinerea. Journal of applied microbiology, 119(5), 1253–1262.
  6. Nenoff, P., Haustein, U. F., & Brandt, W. (1996). Antifungal activity of the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree oil) against pathogenic fungi in vitro. Skin pharmacology : the official journal of the Skin Pharmacology Society, 9(6), 388–394.
  7. Menezes, I. O., Scherf, J. R., Martins, A. O. B. P. B., Ramos, A. G. B., Quintans, J. D. S. S., Coutinho, H. D. M., Ribeiro-Filho, J., & de Menezes, I. R. A. (2021). Biological properties of terpinolene evidenced by in silico, in vitro and in vivo studies: A systematic review. Phytomedicine, 93, 153768.
  8. Macedo, E. M., Santos, W. C., Sousa, B. P., Neto, Lopes, E. M., Piauilino, C. A., Cunha, F. V., Sousa, D. P., Oliveira, F. A., & Almeida, F. R. (2016). Association of terpinolene and diclofenac presents antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory synergistic effects in a model of chronic inflammation. Brazilian journal of medical and biological research = Revista brasileira de pesquisas medicas e biologicas, 49(7), e5103.