What is the Terpene Humulene?

What is the Terpene Humulene?
May 14, 2024
2 min read

α-Humulene (formerly known as α-caryophyllene), is a common terpene found in cannabis. It often occurs alongside the related terpene β-caryophyllene and contributes a hoppy, woody, earthy, and herbal aroma. Aside from cannabis, it is present in hops (Humulus lupulus) and contributes to its characteristic odour. Humulene can also be found in many other plants throughout nature, and has various interesting properties. In this article we aim to cover everything you need to know about the terpene humulene.

What is the Terpene Humulene?

What are terpenes?

Terpenes are aromatic hydrocarbons (flavour compounds) which are widely occurring in nature and give many plants their characteristic scent. They are partially responsible for the smell of cannabis, and they are thought to contribute to its effects. If you would like to learn more about terpenes, check out our article – What are cannabis terpenes?

Humulene and its properties

What does humulene smell like?

Humulene has a characteristic aroma of hops that may be described as woody, herbal, and pine-like in its pure form.

What are the properties of humulene?

While research into the effects of humulene is minimal, there has been some research on humulene’s effects on human health. If you wish to find out more about this, ask your prescriber.

Where is humulene found in nature?

Humulene is common in nature, often occurring alongside the related compound β-caryophyllene.
Humulene can be found in:

  • Hops
  • Sage
  • Ginseng
  • Oranges
  • Pine
  • Basil
  • Black pepper
  • Cloves
  • Cannabis
What strains have the most humulene?

In cannabis, humulene is commonly associated with high β-caryophyllene strains such as the “Dessert” and “OGs and gas” classes of cultivars (Emerald Cup).

Classic “Dessert” class strains include Bubba Kush, GSCs, Gelatos, and Cakes.

“OGs and gas” cultivars include OG Kush, Chemdawg, Sour Diesel, and Gorilla Glue.

What temperature does humulene vaporise at?

Conflicting numbers are often given for the boiling point of humulene – commonly 106-107°C or 166 – 168 °C. It appears likely that humulene begins to vaporise at 106-107°C due to its prominent aroma and apparent effects at low temperatures.

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For The Extra Curious:

Humulene vs Caryophyllene


Structure of α-humulene (formerly α-caryophyllene)


Structure of β-caryophyllene

Humulene and caryophyllene are chemically related and are both classed as sesquiterpenes due to containing three isoprene units (terpene building blocks). They often occur alongside each other as they are produced by plants using similar metabolic pathways.

Despite their similarities, they have very different aromas. Humulene has a much “brighter” aroma reminiscent of hops, pine, and herbs, whereas caryophyllene has a much “darker” aroma of black pepper, spices, and earth. However, both are often described as smelling “woody”.

What type of terpene is humulene?

Terpenes are grouped according to the number of carbon atoms they contain. Humulene is classed as a sesquiterpene, meaning it contains 3 isoprene units (terpene building blocks). Sesquiterpenes like humulene are more stable than monoterpenes, and take longer to degrade in samples of aged cannabis.

We hope this article on humulene has been useful and informative. If you would like more information on the terpenes present in your flower, you may find the CoA (Certificate of Analysis) on Catalyst or Cannareviews. If you have any questions about the health effects of caryophyllene, be sure to ask your prescriber.

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Please note that this blog was not written by a licensed medical practitioner and therefore is not providing medical advice. We do not endorse the use of cannabis or any other illicit drugs. Like any medication, cannabis has potential negative side effects and should only be used under the guidance of a qualified medical professional. For the latest information on cannabis prescription and use, please visit the TGA website. If you are considering cannabis as a treatment option, we encourage you to consult with a licensed healthcare professional.

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