It is an evergreen coniferous shrub growing to a height of 1-3 m [rarely a small tree to 13 m tall]. The leaves are needle-like, in whorls of three, light green, 7-14 mm long and 1-1.5 mm broad, with a double white stomatal band [split by a green midrib] on the inner surface. It is dioecious, with separate male and female plants. The seed cones are berry-like, green ripening in 18 months to reddish-brown with a variable light waxy coating; they are spherical, 8-10 mm diameter, and have six or nine fused scales in two or three whorls of three; the three larger scales each with a single seed. The seeds are dispersed when birds eat the cones, digesting the fleshy scales and passing the hard seeds in their droppings.