Erect monoecious trees or shrubs to 30 m high. Ultimate branches often flat, in 2-dimensional sprays. Leaves scale-like, decussate, completely enclosing ultimate branches, often with a resin gland near tip on abaxial surface, ultimate leaf segments usually dimorphic. Male cones terminal, solitary, sporophylls in 3–10 decussate pairs, scales imbricate, 2–6 sporangia per sporophyll. Female cones terminal, solitary, ±globular, woody, maturing in the second year; scales decussate, in 4–6 pairs, valvate, peltate; apex of scales with a short mucro. Seeds flattened, ridged, with narrow lateral wings; borne on scales, 3–20 per scale. Cotyledons 2, often with 2 alternating leaves developing at the same level.
About 12 species; all Eastern Hemisphere, 1 naturalised in Victoria.
See note under Hesperocyparis.