Phellandrene is a terpene found in cannabis and other plants such as eucalyptus. This little-known compound is actually a pair of organic compounds—alpha-phellandrene and beta-phellandrene. The scent of phellandrene has often been described as woody and minty, with prevailing notes of citrus. Phellandrene is a secondary terpene in cannabis, meaning it appears in trace levels that are difficult to detect. It is found in higher-than-usual concentrations in select cannabis cultivars such as Jack Herer, Trainwreck, and Ace of Spades.

“Jack Herer is a cannabis cultivar that contains higher-than-normal levels alpha-phellandrene.”

What is phellandrene?

Phellandrene is known as a secondary terpene in cannabis and hasn’t been as well studied or understood as more prominent cannabis terpenes. It is found in low concentrations in select cannabis cultivars such as Jack Herer, Trainwreck, and Ace of Spades.

Phellandrene consists of alpha- and beta-phellandrene and can be more accurately understood as a pair of terpenes that have slightly different molecular structures and odors. Alpha-phellandrene was named after Eucalyptus phellandra, from which it can be isolated, and has a citrusy, woody fragrance. Beta-phellandrene has been isolated from the oil of water fennel and Canada balsam oil and boasts a scent profile with discernible notes of balsam and pine.

Besides cannabis, the phellandrenes can also be found in the essential oils of other fragrant plants and herbs, including mint, dill, cinnamon, parsley, pine, water fennel, and lavender. 

What is phellandrene used for?

The pleasing fragrance of phellandrene means it is often used in the manufacture of perfumes and colognes. Phellandrene has also been a staple in Eastern medicine for centuries and is used to treat digestive disorders, fungal infections, and other disorders.

Research is underway to unpack the therapeutic uses of this mysterious terpene, with emerging studies pointing to diverse potential uses as a plant fungicide, anticancer agent, and analgesic for neuropathic pain. It’s important to note, however, that much of this research has been focused on plant essential oils that contain alpha- or beta-phellandrene as a fundamental constituent, but also contain other terpenes and bioactive compounds.

Thus far, research on phellandrene has been focused on plants and animals and therefore doesn’t reveal much about the cannabinoid’s effects in humans. Further research focused on the role and effects of phellandrene within the context of cannabis is needed for a more conclusive understanding of its potential therapeutic benefits.