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Evergreen monoecious trees or rarely shrubs, bark smooth or rough. Leaves dimorphic, primary leaves consisting of small, membranous scales. Secondary leaves needle-shaped, borne in clusters of 2, 3 or 5, persisting for five years or more. Male and female cones separate, but on the same tree. Male cones numerous, short, cylindrical, microsporophylls scale-like, with two inverted pollen sacs. Female cones with a central axis bearing spirally arranged bract scales, fertile scales arising from their axils eventually, each fertile scale bearing 2 inverted ovules on the lower surface. Cones may be erect or pendulous. Seeds egg-shape, with a firm outer shell, usually with a winged.