Description from Flora of China
Trees or shrubs evergreen, monoecious or dioecious. Leaves decussate or in whorls of 3, scalelike and then often dimorphic with flattened facial leaves and keeled lateral leaves, or needlelike particularly in juvenile plants, often with an abaxial resin gland. Pollen cones terminal or axillary, solitary, maturing and shed annually; microsporophylls 6-16, decussate or whorled, each bearing (2 or)3-6(-9) pollen sacs; pollen wingless. Seed cones usually terminal, solitary, globose, ovoid, or oblong, dehiscent or indehiscent when mature in 1st or 2nd(or 3rd) year; cone scales developing after ovules originate in bract axils; bracts almost completely enveloped by cone scales, free only at apex; ovules 1-numerous per bract axil, erect; cone scales of mature cones 3-16, flat or peltate, woody, ± leathery, or succulent, 1-20-seeded. Seeds winged or not; wings derived from seed coat. Cotyledons usually 2, rarely 3-6. Germination epigeal.
Nineteen genera and ca. 125 species: worldwide; eight genera (one introduced) and 46 species (16 endemic, 13 introduced) in China.
In this account, the Cupressaceae are treated sensu stricto, i.e., excluding those taxa that are traditionally classified in Taxodiaceae. A merger of these two families is substantially supported by both morphological and molecular evidence (the Cupressaceae form a clearcut monophyletic group derived from within the Taxodiaceae). No consistent characters separate them, while the homology of the reproductive organs, so fundamentally different from other conifer families, appears to unite them phylogenetically. However, the traditional family concept, as adopted in FRPS, has been maintained here for pragmatic reasons.
In FRPS, it was stated that Microbiota decussata Komarov had been said to grow in NE China, but that no material had been seen. This species is known with certainty only from the Sikhote Alin range of E Russia (Primorye), not far from the Chinese border, where it grows on mountains above the timberline. It resembles a spreading Juniperus but has minute, dehiscent, 1-seeded cones, and should be searched for in comparable areas in E Heilongjiang. One endemic species, Thuja sutchuenensis, has apparently become extinct in the wild in historic times. Sabina, which was recognized in FRPS as a distinct genus, is reduced to the synonymy of Juniperus in this account.
For the species that bear scalelike leaves, the branchlets described are those bearing such leaves.
Wang Wen-tsai, Cheng Wan-chün, Fu Li-kuo & Chu Cheng-de. 1978. Cupressaceae. In: Cheng Wan-chün & Fu Li-kuo, eds., Fl. Reipubl. Popularis Sin. 7: 313-398.
(Authors: Fu Liguo (傅立国 Fu Li-kuo) , Yu Yongfu (于永福) ; Aljos Farjon)