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It is a large to very large tree, ranging up to 65–70 metres (213–230 ft) tall and 3–4 metres (9.8–13 ft) in trunk diameter, exceptionally even larger. Trees growing in the open may have a crown that reaches the ground, whereas trees densely spaced together will only exhibit a crown at the top, where light can reach the leaves. It is long-lived; some individuals can live well over a thousand years, with the oldest verified being 1,460 years. The foliage forms flat sprays with scale-like leaves in opposite pairs, with successive pairs at 90° to each other. The foliage sprays are green above, and green marked with whitish stomatal bands below; they are strongly aromatic, with a scent reminiscent of pineapple when crushed. The individual leaves are 1–4 mm long and 1–2 mm broad on most foliage sprays, but up to 12 mm long on strong-growing lead shoots. The cones are slender, 10–18 mm long and 4–5 mm broad, with 8–12 (rarely 14) thin, overlapping scales; they are green to yellow-green, ripening brown in fall about six months after pollination, and open at maturity to shed the seeds. The seeds are 4–5 mm long and 1 mm broad, with a narrow papery wing down each side. The pollen cones are 3–4 mm long, red or purple at first, shedding yellow pollen in spring.