Cannabis strains vary widely in many respects, including their aromas. From herbal to citrus, and everywhere in between, each strain is unique. One trait many strains share, however, is a distinctive odor that resembles the pungent smell of a skunk. In fact, one of the most popular strains of bud is named after the critter because of this. But what exactly causes so many cannabis strains to smell like a skunk?
A group of compounds called terpenes cause the various odors that come from weed, of which there are thousands of different types found in nature.
A variety of plants produce terpenes, and most of them have an overpowering smell. On weed, it’s the terpenes that give the herb its unique and rich fragrance.
Studies reveal that there are at least 120 different terpenes found in the plant.
Each terpene smells different than the next one. As a result, cannabis strains vary widely in their aromas from strain to strain depending on what terpenes are present, and in what amount.
So the more lemony terpenes are in a strain, for example, the more lemony the batch will end up smelling. That’s the reason you can get anything from earthy herb to bud that smells like oranges.
Why Does Weed Smell Like A Skunk?
These two features work in concert to fend off predators; their distinctive coat serves as a warning that if you cross the creature, you’re in for a foul-smelling surprise.
The skunk has scent glands that produce their noxious spray. The concoction these glands produce is a mixture of chemicals that contain sulfur, and the most prominent of these chemicals are compounds called thiols.
Thiols are characteristically pungent, often smelling of garlic or rotten eggs. It’s these that make the skunk’s spray so vile. Like terpenes, there are many different types of thiols. The particular combination of thiols present in skunk spray is what makes it so easily identifiable.
So what is the link between terpenes and thiols that cause some cannabis strains to smell like skunk? The answer is that it’s rather coincidental. Some of the terpenes present in cannabis happen to smell like the thiols in skunk spray. If these skunky terpenes are low in a particular strain, the resulting bud won’t smell like skunk at all. But other strains will have terpenes that make it extremely skunky.