Cannabis strains offer a variety of scents and delectable aromas, and it is through these variables that we decide what strains are appealing. The unique combination of these of aromas, flavours, and expressions creates each strain’s exclusive terpene profile. Today we explore the most grounding of them all; earthy inspired terpenes.
Being grounded describes a person who is relaxed in their surroundings, comfortable within their own skin, and has a realistic, but optimistic outlook towards everyday dilemmas. What was also just described here, is the attitudes of many people, of all ages, within the cannabis community.
It comes as no surprise that select terpenes in cannabis impart earthy undertones; smells reminiscent of the forest floor in the fall, when the landscape is littered with fallen leaves. Cannabis comes from the earth, so why shouldn’t that profile of fresh soil come through in a variety of cannabis strains?
The earthy scented terpenes detected in cannabis are not limited to just those odours emanating from the outdoors. Traces of other elements are also part of the complex bouquet that cannabis terpenes can offer us from within its flowers.
Aromas of incense and spices are predominant in many of the classic cannabis strains and have been used as the backbone for many advanced level breeding projects. The desire for cannabis cultivars with terpene profiles reminiscent of sandalwood, musk, and black pepper has always been high.
With so many strains and unique terpene combinations to comb through, it may seem like a daunting task to find a new favourite strain. To help keep you grounded, below are seven excellent cannabis cultivars to fill your mind, body, and soul with earthy terpene combinations.
1. Hindu Kush
When it comes to a sense of relaxation, cannabis enthusiasts often will reference this legendary strain. As the scent lingers in the air, cannabis lovers will be treated to whiffs of this iconic terpene profile, which serves as a reminder of the many pleasant earthly odours out there.
Scents of pine and sandalwood, along with the classic earthy Afghan notes expand deeper into your psyche with every breath. It is no wonder why High Times magazine listed Hindu Kush (available in regular, feminized, and autoflowering variants) as one of the top 25 all-time cannabis strains.
A true indica, Hindu Kush is a compact plant with a short 45-to-50-day flowering time. Originating in the mountainous regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan, this particular strain is resistant to mould and fluctuating environmental conditions, making it an excellent choice for the novice cultivator. Hindu Kush is covered with sticky resin glands, which represents the true gem that this cannabis strain is.
2. Girl Scout Cookies
Emerging from the United States, this earthy smelling strain has put smiles on many faces across the world. Whether it is the aromas, the colour, or just the sheer stickiness of the trichome-laden flower, Girl Scout Cookies has something for everyone.
The experience begins with your eyes, as they gaze upon the gorgeous colours of the dried flower; from green to deep, dark, purples hues. Next, your sense of smell takes over as the character of the terpenes float in the air. A hint of pine, sandalwood, and earthy notes combine to almost hide the faint touches of fruit, mint, and aniseed.
Finally, you put your hands on this delightful creation, only to realize that these cannabis flowers are a sticky trap. Sit back and relax with a true hybrid strain. Not too sleepy, not too alert, Girl Scout Cookies is just right.
For those who said sativas are incapable of imparting earthy aromas, they have never had the pleasure of having a serving of the uplifting Durban strain (available in regular and feminized variants). Don’t be mistaken; the terpene profile does offer some of the sweet fragrances common to sativa cultivars, but the earthy smells of aniseed and pine breakthrough to please your senses and fulfil your earthy desires.
Cannabis lovers who have experienced this strain make special mention about the energetic lightning bolt of motivation they receive from Durban. Not a surprising statement when you consider the 90% sativa lineage, in quite possibly the most popular cannabis strain to come out of South Africa. Durban effects come on quickly, almost immediately, which can surprise those who anticipated more of a ramping up in effects.
The terpene profile offers a warm, spicy embrace through the nose, but the physical effects can offer a slap in the face. A rewarding and easy strain to grow, gardeners just need to ensure they have adequate headroom first; these ladies have legs!
4. OG Kush
Another timeless cannabis strain to make the list is OG Kush (available in feminized and autoflowering variants). This cultivar brings forth a unique and complex terpene profile, which offers notes of spice and earth through your nose, and a complimentary touch of lemon on the tongue. A hint of musk is evident when the flower is properly dried and cured, and this adds to the dank and earthy undertones.
Like a full body massage, OG Kush will leave you feeling relaxed from head to toe after the initial lift-off, which comes from the 25% sativa / 75% indica lineage. Although it will grow short and bushy like traditional indicas, be warned now that this plant can be rather odiferous in late flower. The robust terpene profile often starts with citrus undertones and then gives way to subtle hints of diesel and black pepper.
5. Afghani #1
One of the primary backbones to the plethora of modern-day cannabis elites, Afghani #1 (available in regular, feminized, and autoflowering variants) sets the standard for a hearty and almost narcotic indica effect. An ultra-resinous plant, this strain was selected from high in the mountains of Afghanistan, amongst the many Afghanicas and Hash Plants.
Traditionally earthy terpenes are plentiful in this strain, along with minor influences from fruit and pepper-based terpenes. If “old-school” was a cannabis taste, this would be it. Despite the wonderful tastes and terpenes Afghani #1 offers us, many people rank it at the top of their list for its sedative effects. It’s an excellent strain for evening use, or just to chill out on the sofa. Novice consumers be warned, go slow and start with low dosages.
When growing this strain, it will do best indoors, unless gardeners happen to live in a Mediterranean climate. A fast-flowering, short-postured, and resin-covered delight awaits those who add this strain in the personal garden, a great choice for beginners or expert cultivators!
6. Buttercream Gelato
Earning the honour of being mentioned here is another American influenced strain, but with the reliable and sought-after Sensi Seeds touch. Fresh and unique terpene combinations along with tried-and-true genetics make this new strain one to put on your “must-do” list.
Breathing in deeply, you quickly discover that this flower is an aromatic treat. Upfront, you get the sweet and dessert-like influence from the Gelato, which intertwines with the earthy notes of the Hindu Kush and the subtle spice of the Durban. When properly grown, you will enjoy aromas of sandalwood, mint, vanilla, and hash.
The effects of this strain offer the best of both worlds, a truly well-balanced hybrid. Initially, there is a warm and relaxing sensation that washes over your frame, invoking calm and peace, but the sativa heritage keeps people feeling creative, motivated, and maybe even a bit chatty.
7. Master Kush
What happens when you take two of the finest indicas from the old world; one originating in India, the other in Afghanistan, and then wed them together? You get Master Kush (available in regular, feminized, and autoflowering variants), an outstanding indica strain with a unique aroma of hand-rolled hash.
Indulge in the earthy undertones, accented by sandalwood and a dash of citrus. Melt away as relaxation slowly overtakes your body while leaving the mind clear to explore the depths of the universe, Master Kush is “far-out, man”. The complex merger of cannabis terpenes are a note-worthy treat for those who appreciate quality cannabis.
For growers, it is a top choice for the garden and frequently returns large yields with astonishing amounts of resin production. Master Kush is a compact plant with a quick flowering time and will work great in height restricted gardens.
Which terpenes are responsible for the aromas in earthy strains?
While the strains above have unique but similar terpene profiles, there isn’t one specific terpene responsible for them all. Instead, it is the unique combination of terpenes and in different ratios that create much of the aromatic magic behind the cannabis plant. A few examples of the specific terpenes found in cannabis strains include myrcene, humulene, caryophyllene, and pinene. These same terpenes are also found in the essential oils of many plants found outdoors in nature.
Myrcene comes in both an a-myrcene and b-myrcene form, with b-myrcene being the more frequent of the two found in nature and cannabis strains. The aromas of myrcene have been studied and are characterized as smelling earthy, musky, slightly sweet, and potentially spicy at times.
Terpenes are widely found throughout nature, and myrcene is no exception. Fresh herbs and fruits like lemongrass, verbena, thyme, basil, parsley, and mangoes are just a few examples of other species that contain myrcene as part of the plants’ essential oils.
Elevated levels of myrcene in cannabis are often described as being sedative, relaxing, and may induce “couch-lock”. Consider your plans for the evening first before selecting a myrcene-dominant strain to enjoy.
2. Caryophyllene / humulene
Caryophyllene is in the class of terpenes known as sesquiterpenes. Caryophyllene had both an alpha and beta version, but a-caryophyllene was renamed to a-humulene, leaving us with b-caryophyllene. a-humulene imparts an earthy aroma in cannabis, whereas b-caryophyllene leaves more of a spicy, peppery note in the air as you pull a fresh bud apart with your fingers.
Black pepper is an easily recognizable source of the sesquiterpene b-caryophyllene, and the term” peppery” is often used to describe some of the strains rich in this terpene. Cloves are another place you can expect to find b-caryophyllene in abundance. Oregano, basil, hops, and cinnamon also contain b-caryophyllene terpenes, which contribute to their overall aroma.
Have you ever walked through a pine forest on a warm summer day and enjoyed the lingering scent of pine needles in the air? The monoterpene known as a-pinene is primarily responsible for this distinctive aroma. The two forms of pinene you will commonly find are the a-pinene and b-pinene forms, and they are mildly different from each other in both smell and effect.
Pinene is the most abundant monoterpene you will find in nature, and it is also found in many of the cannabis strains we enjoy. A few examples of where to find the a-pinene terpene in nature include conifer trees (pine, spruce, fir, etc.), rosemary, sage, and surprisingly, pistachios. Yet, b-pinene shows up in many places too, and offers more of an earthy, woody scent in the essential oils of parsley, dill, and basil.
Earthy terpenes are found in a wide variety of cannabis strains. Myrcene, caryophyllene, humulene, and pinene combine in different ratios to offer distinct profiles in many of our favourite strains. Not only are these terpenes detectable, but they constitute the terpenes commonly found in larger quantities. In some strains, pinene takes centre stage and dominates over any other scent. In other strains, it is the sedative effects of myrcene that gets noticed more than the actual aroma of the terpene.
The combinations are as vast and endless as there are cannabis strains to explore. Stepping on the freshly rain-washed soil, each new footprint on the forest floor stirs up the rich, dank, and musky odours. Within a few more steps, the scents of refreshing pine trees or sandalwood may take centre stage. Cannabis, like nature, is a constant surprise the more that you explore the opportunities available.
For people looking to neatly group cannabis strains into a relatable and universally accepted way, it’s been demonstrated that using the four categories of “Fruity, Floral, Earthy and Skunky” encompasses the broad range of available strains.
If a person were to look at the options that are in their drawer of cannabis right now, likely the contents would fit into one of these four categories. Which of your favourite strains would belong in the Earthy group? Which strains would be on your top 7 earthy terpenes list?
Whether seeking the vanilla, sandalwood, and liquorice scents or seeking the musty, peppery, and fuel aromas, cannabis has you covered. Strains high in myrcene, humulene, caryophyllene, and pinene are a wonderful place to begin the journey. Happy travels!
- Disclaimer:Laws and regulations regarding cannabis cultivation differ from country to country. Sensi Seeds therefore strongly advises you to check your local laws and regulations. Do not act in conflict with the law.