Humulene Terpene: What It Is And 5 Strains That Have It

While it may not often be the star of the show, humulene deserves its moment in the spotlight. This terpene shows up as the secondary (AKA tertiary) terpene in plenty of cultivars, and sometimes it even steals first place space as the dominant terpene. Since humulene is a common fixture in many cultivars (AKA strains) and cannabis products, it’s important to be well acquainted with its flavors, aromas, and effects. Here’s everything you need to know about humulene and some of the cultivars that contain a lot of it.

What is humulene?

Humulene is a terpene found in many cannabis cultivars and is also closely associated with hops, or Humulus lupulus, from which it derives its name. It may not be surprising, then, that humulene is known for producing a hoppy flavor and an earthy, pungent scent. It can also be found in herbs and plants like black pepper and ginseng. 

Fun fact: Humulene used to be called alpha caryophyllene and appears in many other plants alongside beta caryophyllene, including cloves, sage, and basil. Researchers eventually discovered that these terpenes differ in structure, so alpha caryophyllene was renamed to humulene.

What cannabis cultivars are high in humulene?

While terpene levels fluctuate and the dominant terpene may change from plant to plant — and even from cola to cola on a single plant! — there are some that are reliably high in specific terpenes. While it can be more challenging to find a humulene-dominant cultivar, they’re out there. And even if you don’t find humulene-dominant flower, there are many great options with high humulene levels.

If you’re looking for cultivars that pack potent amounts of humulene, the following are great places to start.

1. GSC

GSC is a well-known indica-dominant hybrid cultivar made by crossing famed indica-dominant hybrid OG Kush and sativa landrace cultivar Durban Poison. Averaging 19% delta 9 THC content and 1% CBG content, GSC is typically beta caryophyllene dominant with high levels of myrcene, limonene and humulene. 

GSC is known by flower lovers for producing a relaxing, happy high. Its flavor and aroma may be described as minty and sweet, and it can be recognized by its vibrant green and purple buds with fiery orange pistils.

2. White Widow

White Widow is a balanced hybrid cultivar bred by crossing a South Indian indica landrace cultivar with a Brazilian sativa landrace cultivar. This combination results in an energizing high that White Widow lovers say prompts waves of euphoria, creativity, and talkativeness. 

White Widow offers an average THC content of 15%, CBG content of 1%, and typically myrcene-dominant terpene profile. In addition, it contains significant amounts of beta caryophyllene, pinene, and humulene. Expect a woody, earthy flavor with notes of herbaceous spice. Many consumers cite White Widow for its ability to alleviate stress, anxiety, and pain.

3. Gelato

Gelato is a well-known hybrid cultivar made by crossing Sunset Sherbet with Thin Mint GSC. Gelato contains an average 17% THC content and boasts a terpene profile that is usually beta caryophyllene-dominant and accompanied by high levels of limonene and humulene. No wonder consumers say Gelato is energizing and euphoric.

Its flavors tend to be sweet and minty like a dessert, thanks in part to the combination of limonene and humulene in its terpene profile. Many consumers report Gelato as effective for alleviating pain, boosting energy levels, and ultimately helping them to sleep as well.

4. Headband

Headband is a hybrid cross between popular cultivars OG Kush and Sour Diesel. The result is an energizing and creative high that consumers say also offers long-lasting pain relief and stress alleviating properties. Headband contains an average THC content of 19%, 1% CBG, and a terpene profile led by beta caryophyllene that includes limonene, myrcene, and humulene in significant quantities. Expect a pungent, diesel aroma and flavor with hints of citrus when trying Headband.

5. Death Star

Death Star is an indica cultivar produced by cross-breeding Sensi Star and Sour Diesel. Like its parentage may suggest, Death Star is recognizable by its pungent, skunky aromas with notes of sweetness. The anecdotal evidence suggests Death Star supports a considerable high that leaves you feeling relaxed and sleepy. Like some of the other cultivars on this list, Death Star is generally beta caryophyllene dominant, with significant quantities of myrcene, limonene, and humulene in tow. 

What are the effects of humulene?

Expect humulene to make you feel relaxed and at ease, much like the subduing effects associated with myrcene, which has led many to cite it for its ability to alleviate stress and anxiety. It may also act as an appetite suppressant, so consuming high humulene cultivars may prove effective for avoiding a case of the munchies. However, that’s not always the case, so always take a close look at the total cannabinoid profile before judging a cultivar.

Humulene has long been a fixture in eastern holistic medicinal practices as well, and modern research has reinforced the idea that it offers some key therapeutic benefits. These include anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It may also alleviate pain and promote the healing of wounds. Some studies also suggest that humulene may offer anti-tumor properties, though more research is needed to confirm these findings.

What other terpenes often appear alongside humulene?

Humulene may not usually be the dominant character in a terpene profile, but it often hangs around with terpenes that are. These include the following cast of characters, each of which are important terpenes in their own right.


The most common terpene found in cannabis is myrcene, an herbal and sweet terpene with a hint of spice and fruity fragrance. It’s also the most frequently dominant terpene in a cannabis plant’s terpene profile, contributing heavily to scent, taste, and effects. In cannabis, myrcene is thought to promote relaxation and induce sleep while alleviating aches and pains. Beyond cannabis, myrcene is commonly found in mangoes, basil, and — like humulene — hops. 

Beta caryophyllene

Beta caryophyllene is not only a major terpene often dominant in a terpene profile, it also acts like a cannabinoid in very unique ways. Unlike other terpenes, beta caryophyllene can selectively bind to the CB2 receptor of the endocannabinoid system, which researchers believe gives it additional therapeutic properties such as anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. Beta caryophyllene can also be found in black pepper, cloves, and cinnamon, which are emblematic of its peppery, spicy scent and flavor.


Limonene is another common sight in cannabis terpene profiles and is no stranger to sharing room with humulene. This terpene is best known for contributing to the smell of citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, and limes, and is found in abundance in their peels. It’s also a powerful antibacterial and antiviral agent, which has helped it make a name for itself as an ingredient in cleaning products. In cannabis, limonene is thought to produce an uplifting and energizing high that won’t leave you feeling couch-locked.


Pinene is another common terpene that appears alongside humulene in cannabis terpene profiles. This terpene actually comes in two varieties: alpha-pinene and beta-pinene, though alpha-pinene is the more plentiful of the two in cannabis. Alpha-pinene is known for its woody, pine aromas, much like the scent of evergreen trees. It is found in other plants like mint and eucalyptus, and is thought to contribute an energizing and uplifting experience in cannabis.

Terpene profile is a key factor in cannabis

Terpenes have the potential to influence your overall experience with a cannabis product, so knowing which ones are present and in what amounts is important to making the best choice for your needs. If you want to learn more about these aromatic and flavorful compounds, check out our cannabis terpenes list. Or, stop into an Iconic Wellness location in Michigan to chat with one of our helpful budtenders, who can point you in the right direction. Or, if you just want to explore our wide array of products for yourself, check out the dispensary menus for Gaylord, Lowell, or Sturgis provisioning centers.

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