Resinous trees with regularly whorled branches. Shoots of two sorts; long shoots bearing scale-leaves (without chlorophyll and with woody, decurrent bases); short shoots born in axils of scale-leaves, with fixed number of green, needle-like leaves surrounded by sheathing scale-leaves at base, entire short shoot falling off as a whole. Female cones usually ripening in the second year; scales thin or woody, persisting on cone until it has shed. Seeds 2 per scale, usually winged. Cotyledons 3–18.