It is a small to medium-sized evergreen coniferous tree growing to 10–18 m (33–59 ft) tall with a trunk diameter of up to 0.7 m (2 ft 4 in), smaller and sometimes shrubby at the tree line. The bark is smooth with resin blisters and grey-brown in colour. The leaves are needle-like, flattened, 1–2 centimetres (0.4–0.8 in) long and 2–2.5 millimetres (0.08–0.10 in) wide by 0.5 mm (0.02 in) thick, glossy dark green above, and with two broad, vividly white bands of stomata below, and slightly notched at the tip. The leaf arrangement is spiral on the shoot, but with each leaf variably twisted at the base so they lie mostly either side of and above the shoot, with fewer below the shoot. The shoots are green-grey at first, maturing pinkish-grey, with scattered fine pubescence. The cones are 4–7 cm (1.6–2.8 in) long and 1.5–2 cm (0.6–0.8 in) broad, dark purple-blue before maturity; the scale bracts are long, green or yellow, and emerge between the scales in the closed cone. The winged seeds are released when the cones disintegrate at maturity about 5–6 months after pollination.