Tree 35–40m, d.b.h. 1.5–2.5m, trunk often forked or branched below. Bark cracked and scaly, with small flaking plates and deep fissures, gark grey to blackish; branches erect, spreading into distinctive horizontal layers. Leading shoots and tips erect or spreading.
Leaves on long shoots spirally arranged, radially spreading; short shoots emerging in leaf axils, leaves densely crowed in false whorls 20–35, straight, 20–25 x 1.5–2mm, green, grey-green ro sometimes glaucous.
Male pollen-cones terminal, borne on short shoots, erect, 4–5cm long, cylindrical, curved pale broiwn when mature. Female seed-cones 8–12 x 3–6cm, terminal, borne on short shoots, erect, sessile, taking two years to mature when they become woody, ovoid oblong or barrel-shaped, ripening grey-brown. Seeds 10–14 x 4–6mm, winged, brown.
In cultivation this species can be confused with C. atlantica (natural ranges do not ovelap), which differs by having smaller seed–cones that are only up to 8cm long and the male pollen-cones are shorter, up to 4cm.
Historically, the timber was been much used for shipbuilding and for the construction of temples. In Lebanon there is a limited amount of exploitation through the demand for ornaments made from cedar wood (Khuri & Talhouk, 1999) in spite of the protection that these forests are afforded.