The holidays feel like a time of year tailor made for creating wonderful sensory memories. Be it the comforting aroma of freshly baked gingerbread men wafting over the kitchen or the taste of a stiff eggnog, our various end-of-year celebrations and traditions are often packed with plenty of signature flavors and smells.
Though cannabis may not be on that list for everyone, it is a plant that relies on the very same aromatic compounds at the heart of everything from mistletoe to hot chocolate: terpenes. Today, terpenes are rapidly becoming an everyday part of the modern cannabis consumer vernacular.
Found in the essential oils of a wide variety of different plants, terpenes give cannabis strains their distinctive tastes and smells but also help in the wild by attracting pollinators and repelling invasive species. Secreted by the cannabis plant’s trichome glands, terpenes also offer any number of potential health benefits, including promising anti-inflammatory properties as well as relief from pain and anxiety.
Of course, that all depends on the terpene. Given there are over 150 of them found in cannabis alone, pinpointing precisely which terpenes can do what remains, with respect to the progress that has been made, an ongoing effort.
Fortunately, when it comes to the specific smells and tastes one can expect, we’ve gotten things down to a science. For instance, we now know that those who think of the holidays and immediately get a whiff of a pine tree echoing through their nostrils owe a debt of gratitude to pinene.
Regarded as the most common terpene in the natural world, pinene is a popular tool in aromatherapy and the pivotal player behind what we commonly refer to as “Christmas tree smell.” In fact, that particular scent has become so beloved that we now buy it by the bottleful to spray in our homes. If you are one of the many who wistfully smiles whenever a pinene-powered burst of pine hits your nose, you may be pleased to learn that this terpene also features prominently in many cannabis strains.
A terpene shared with the likes of orange peels, rosemary, parsley, turpentine, basil, pine needles, dill, and conifer trees, pinene can be found in notable amounts in such cannabis strains as Jack Herer, SFV OG, Sugar Pine and OG Ringo. Each of these four selections is renowned for their hearty notes of pine, which it should be noted will not necessarily be the case simply because a strain is packed with pinene. Instead, it is the presence of all the terpenes in a strain which work together to create a strain’s signature sensory characteristics.
In celebration of the holidays and the surplus of pine trees currently pleasing our sniffers, let’s take a closer look at four strains ready to deliver the evergreen all year round. As a bonus, we’ve paired each strain with a suggested holiday gift for any last-minute shopping on your list!
Undisputed as a legend of the game, Jack Herer is a sativa-dominant strain named for the activist and author of the seminal “The Emperor Wears No Clothes.” Featuring a hybrid of Haze, Northern Lights #5, and Shiva Skunk, this strain is known for having a pine-forward, spicy quality that consumers love almost as much as its corresponding effects, which tend to induce a focused, uplifting high. Grab a jar of Jack Herer and pair it with a copy of “The Emperor Wears No Clothes” for an inspiring combo gift!
Southern California’s San Fernando Valley is the birthplace of SFV OG, a hybrid descendant of OG Kush that delivers big on pain relief but isn’t known for being overly potent. The terpene expression in this strain is rich with notes of pine and lemon, leading some to refer to its resulting taste as being akin to Lemon Pledge (but in a good way). Popular with those seeking relief from physical symptoms, SFV OG should be a mainstay in any showcase devoted to strains that bring the Christmas tree heat. Try pairing a gift of this flower with another SoCal-specific item (you can’t go wrong with merch from Pink’s Hot Dogs) for a geographically themed twofer.
With a name that sounds like a ski resort nestled in the Sierras, Sugar Pine is the result of decades of crosses and tinkering. The worthwhile payoff is a hybrid strain featuring genetics from Skunk, Sugar Bush, Afghani, and Sweetie. That’s quite the eclectic crew, which makes its ensuing flavor profile — a fragrant bouquet of sweet pine, vanilla, and hops — such a unique delight. With a name like Sugar Pine, it seems only fitting that any gift of this soothing, yet enlivening, strain should come with a home baked confection. Pair Sugar Pine with a tray of cookies straight from your oven and you’ve got the perfect present for anyone who loves both cannabis and sweets.
Another relative of the OG Kush clan, OG Ringo is named not for the Beatle but rather Lawrence Ringo: a famed CBD breeder and activist. Regardless, the headline here is OG Ringo’s potent, high-THC payoff in the form of its long-lasting euphoric effects as well as its earthy, musky aroma, highlighted once more by notes of sweet pine. This holiday season, it’s actually possible to give a loved one the gift of multiple Ringos when you combine a jar of Ringo OG with a subscription to Disney+, which is currently streaming a critically acclaimed new, three-part documentary on the Beatles!