Resinous, conical trees. Branches whorled; short lateral shoots absent. Winter buds sometimes resinous. Leaves single, spirally arranged but often twisted to form regular ranks, linear, 4-angled, usually rigid; bases decurrent, persisting as ‘pegs’. Male cones axillary, cylindrical, often clustered. Female cones terminal on short branches, usually only on upper branches of tree, pendulous, cylindrical, maturing in first year but retained on tree for several years after seed is shed; scales woody, persistent. Seeds 2 per scale; with a large membranous wing. Cotyledons 5–15.
About 50 species, all from the northern hemisphere, 2 incipiently naturalised in Victoria.