Description from Flora of China
Trees or rarely shrubs, evergreen, with regularly whorled branches; branchlets strongly dimorphic: long branchlets bearing scalelike leaves and spreading leaf bundles; short branchlets bearing leaves in bundles of 2-5(-7); winter buds large, with numerous scales. Leaves needlelike, slender or stout, straight or twisted, triangular, flabellate-triangular, or semiorbicular in cross section, stomatal lines several, on 1, 2, or all surfaces, vascular bundles 1 or 2, resin canals 2-10 or more, marginal or median, rarely internal, base enclosed by persistent or deciduous, membranous sheath. Pollen cones usually borne in spikelike clusters at base of 1st-year branchlets, sessile, cylindric or ovoid; pollen 2-saccate. Seed cones pedunculate or subsessile, erect or pendulous, cylindric or ovoid, maturing in 2nd or 3rd year. Seed scales spirally arranged, woody, exposed apex thickened and ridged (the apophysis), with a prominent protuberance (umbo), usually terminating in a spine or prickle, persistent. Bracts minute. Seeds variable in color, shape, and size, winged or not; wing adnate or articulated to seed. Cotyledons 3-18. Germination epigeal. 2n = 24*.
About 110 species: N Africa, Asia, Europe, North America; 39 species (seven endemic, 16 introduced) in China.