Massive, tall, conical to narrow-conical evergreen tree. Trunk tapering from basal buttress, the lower third to half often without branches on older trees. Bark red-brown, fibrous and spongy. Branches drooping. Leaves on lateral branchlets 1-2.5 cm long, two-ranked, linear to narrow-lanceolate, pointed, with two pale bands beneath; on fertile shoots and leaders they are smaller, in several ranks, close to the stem and with an incurved point. Male and female cones on the same tree. Male cones axillary, terminal, stalked, over the whole canopy (July)-Oct.-Nov. Female cones solitary, terminal, pendulous, c. 2.5 cm long, ripening in the first year and persistent after the seeds are shed; scales 15-20, leathery, wrinkled, shield-like, each with 3-7 ovules. Seeds with 2 wings, Oct.-Nov.
This is the tallest of all trees, attaining a height of c. 100 m. The tallest living specimen, which is the tallest living tree in the world, is in the Redwood National Park, California, USA: it was 113.7 m tall in 1990. Together with Pinus canariensis and Taxus species this is one of the few conifers that will re-shoot from mature wood.
Western North America (coastal highlands). Grows naturally along the coast, below alt. 1000 m, usually in areas protected from winds and where ocean fogs occur by streams and in deep gullies. Because of its natural ecology growth is best in cool, moist, sheltered localities with good rainfall and high humidity. Naturalised on the North Island of New Zealand.
SA: Belair (4 trees ptd c. 1904); Mylor (next to coachhouse, Rockford Estate); Penola (Yallum Park); Stirling (land adjoining 'St Vigeans', 9 Laurel Rd). NSW: Bathurst (sportsground; cemetery); Batlow (Pilot Hill Arboretum); Berrima (Nursery, 44 years old in 1993); Exeter (Road to Mt Broughton Hotel); Leura ('Everglades'); Mt Tomah (Bot. Gds ptd c. 1936 by Alfred Brunet); Orange (100 year old tree at Cook Park); Ournie (Jephcott Arboretum, 3 trees below road, largest 41 m tall in 1991, probably ptd 1870's); Sydney (Royal Bot. Gds). ACT: Fairbairn (Redwood Park); Yarralumla (Nsy back of administration building ptd c. 1920). VIC: Ballarat (Bot. Gds; Mollonghip Plantation, Mooradool Reservoir); Beechworth (Centennial Park); Belgrave ('Glen Harrow'); Box Hill (Carrick St.); Buchan (caves, ptd 1940's); Burnley (V.C.A.H. 22 m in 1989, ptd c. 1891); Creswick (Department CNR. Nsy in Oak Walk); Dandenongs (Kenloch, 42 m in 1990; Mt Dandenong Arboretum; 'Pirianda', c. 18 m tall in 1984); Emerald Lake (Bunurong Amphitheatre); Fernshaw (Reserve, several); Healesville (Coranderrk Reserve); Kallista (Old Williams Nsy site); Kew (Boroondara Cemetery); Malmsbury (Bot. Gds c. 30 m tall in 1983); Maroondah (dam directly behind the dam wall, several trees ptd. c. 1929, c. 35-40 m tall and healthy); Melbourne (Royal Bot. Gds, Central Lawn); Mt Macedon (State School); Narbethong (Black Range State Forest, Redwood Park); Otways (forestry plantation at Aire River crossing Picnic Site ptd 1936); Porpunkah (Bright Country Golf Club, Back Road, canopy 42.8 m in 1991, log volume 19.7 m3, planted 1923 by the Forests Commission and once surrounded by pines). TAS: Carrick (Bass Hwy, c. 131 years old in 1991 and c. 50 m tall); Hagley (St Mary's Church); Hobart (Royal Tasmanian Bot. Gds); Launceston (Arbour Park; Cataract Gorge; City park, 2 unusually narrow trees; Princess Square; St Georges Square c. 100 years old in 1992); Lalla (WAG Walker Arboretum, row).
Source: (1995). Taxodiaceae. 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.