Conical to wide-crowned mostly open tree up to about 30 m tall with a single straight or slightly curved trunk. Branches often restricted to upper part of trunk. Bark deeply fissured, dark tan, shedding in large plates to give deep red scars. Buds more or less cylindrical, non-resinous, with dark brown curled and fringed scales. Young shoots greenish, becoming brown. Leaves in 2's, mostly 15-24 cm long but sometimes shorter, rigid, thick being about 2 mm wide, twisted, bright pale green; sheaths to about 2.5 cm long. Cones conic-ovoid, 9-18 cm long, pale, glossy milk-chocolate brown at first, stalkless, often closed for many years, slightly asymmetrical at the base; scales with a short, black prickle and a distinct ridge across the tip (umbo). Seeds about 9 mm long with a wing about 3 cm long.
Grows naturally on light well-drained nutrient-deficient Western Mediterranean soils and is often planted on sandy coastal soils; will survive in infertile areas. Sometimes an aggressive invader of natural vegetation. Naturalised in Victoria (e.g. French Island), South Australia, the Perth region (mostly near plantations), and in New South Wales, spreading from windbreaks and ornamental plantations: also on the North and South Islands of New Zealand. A widespread weed on S &SW Cape of South Africa.
Bark in dark tan plates on old trees; leaves long and very thick, young ones waxy blue; cones stalkless, a distinctive glossy milk-chocolate colour at first, persistent and sometimes remaining closed for several years, bases asymmetrical, scale umbos with distinct ridge.
SA: Mt Gambier (Umpherston Cave; Botanic Gds); Penola (Yallum Park). NSW: Batlow (Pilot Hill Arboretum); Berrima (Nursery and Park, 100 years old in 1993); Mittagong (Albert St); Orange (Cook Park; Kinross Wolaroi School, entrance top of road 2 trees); Ournie (Jephcott Arboretum); Sydney (Centennial Park; Royal Bot. Gds); Uralla (Alma Park, 2 trees). VIC: Beechworth (Queen Victoria Park, avenue along old entrance); Creswick (Sawpit Gully by original nursery, ptd c. 1880 ; demonstration softwood area behind Forestry School ptd 1981); Dandenongs (Mt Dandenong Arboretum 26 m tall in 1980); Daylesford (Bot. Gds); Emerald (Railway Station); Glen Waverley (Jells Park); Frankston (Wallace Ave Reserve, the remains of one of several similar plantations made on sand around the state in the 1930's); Healesville (c. 20 on side of road c.1 km towards Wildlife Sanctuary from Maroondah Highway); Kew (Victoria Park); Marysville ('Kooringa'); Tynong (School Gds). TAS: Hobart (Government House, main drive c. 22 m in 1991); Launceston (City Park, exceptional tree); Plenty (Salmon Ponds, 2 exceptional trees over 100 years old).
Source: (1995). Pinaceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 1, Ferns, conifers & their allies. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.