Trees to 25m; trunk to 1.2m diam., straight to crooked, often forked; crown conic to raggedly lobed, sparse. Bark dark brown to near black, irregularly and deeply furrowed, ridges irregularly rectangular or blocky, scaly, often breaking away, bases of furrows and underbark orangish. Branches often ascending; cone-bearing branchlets stout, twigs comparatively slender, both pale purple-brown and glaucous, aging gray, rough. Buds ovoid, red-brown, ca. 1cm, resinous; scale margins white-fringed. Leaves mostly 3 per fascicle, drooping, persisting 3--4 years, 15--32cm ´ 1.5mm, slightly twisted, dull blue-green, all surfaces with pale, narrow stomatal lines, margins serrulate, apex short-acuminate; sheath to 2.4cm, base persistent. Pollen cones ellipsoid, 10--15mm, yellow. Seed cones maturing in 2 years, shedding seeds soon thereafter, persisting to 7 years, pendent, massive, heavy, nearly symmetric, ovoid before opening, broadly to narrowly ovoid or ovoid-cylindric when open, 15--25cm, dull brown, resinous, stalks to 5cm; apophyses elongate, curved, continuous with umbos to form long, upcurved claws to 2cm. Seeds narrowly obovoid; body ca. 20mm, dark brown; wing broad, short, ca. 10mm. 2n = 24.
Dry foothills on the west slope of the Sierra Nevada, and in the coast ranges, nearly ringing the Central Valley of California; 30--1900m; Calif.