A medium to large-sized, evergreen, needle-leaved conifer; young specimens have a conical or pyramidal shape, but mature trees develop majestic, rounded, flattened, spreading or domed crowns.
Leaves are needles 3–6 inches long, stiff, dark green, paired in their papery fascicles, persisting for 4–5 years.
Bark is furrowed, platelike, dark brown to black.
Twigs are light brown, smooth but not waxy-coated, turning gray with age.
Conifers don't "flower," but they do shed pollen; this species sheds pollen in March–April.
Fruits are oval cones, not curving, to 3 inches long, stalkless, yellowish-brown at maturity; the cone scales are somewhat shiny, with a tiny, usually curved spine at the tip.