Terpenes are the natural aromatic compounds found in plants that give them distinctive aromas and flavors. They are incredibly important for a plant’s survival. Terpenes have two main functions in plants; protecting against predators such as insects and animals while also helping the plant cope and adapt to environmental stressors such as high temperatures.
In order to protect against insects and plant eating animals, plants produce terpenes which are bitter compounds that repel them. At the same time, plants can produce compounds that attract pollinating insects or those that feed on plant eating bugs.
Terpenes and their production increase when a plant is under heat stress. When the temperature rises to a point where a plant is stressed, terpenes are released to increase the hemp plant’s thermotolerance (the ability to withstand hot temperatures). Research suggests that terpene production allows the plant to cool itself and maintain an even temperature.
When you’re snacking on an orange, you notice the wonderful smell and effervescence that hits your nose as you peel it. Those are terpenes. Or how about fresh mint as you chop it and the fresh smell that envelopes your senses? Yup, terpenes. Or in the morning on a nature walk as the smell of pine hits you as you navigate a path through trees and bushes.