A dioecious, erect or spreading shrub or small tree attaining a height of upto 6m. Branches spreading or ascending and forming an irregular crown. Typically the bark on old-growth trees exfoliates into long thin flakes which are reddish to grey-brown in colour.
Very dense, leaves borne in alternating whorls of 3–10 x 0.1–0.3cm, boat-shaped, strongly curved, margins entire, apex obtuse or acutely pungent, with two white stomal bands on the upper surface.
Female seed-cones 7–9mm, globose, dark copper-brown when mature after two years and ripening in the autumn. Seeds 3 per cone, ovoid and triquetrous. Male pollen-cones are borne solitary in the axils of the leaves, 3–5 x 2–4mm, orange-brown in colour and shedding pollen in the spring.
A very distinctive species which can easily be identified due to its very dense, stiff foliage and short needles.
This species is now too rare to be exploited: in the past its timber was used for construction.