Trees or shrubs evergreen, dioecious or rarely monoecious. Leaves spirally arranged or decussate, linear or lanceolate, abaxial surface with 1 stomatal band on each side of prominent or inconspicuous midvein, resin canal present or absent. Pollen cones solitary in leaf or bract axils, or aggregated into spikelike complexes apically on branches; microsporophylls numerous; pollen sacs 3-9, radially arranged or on outer side of microsporophyll and then with distinct adaxial and abaxial surfaces; pollen nonsaccate. Seed-bearing structures solitary or paired in axils of leaves or bracts, pedunculate or sessile, with several overlapping or decussate bracts at base; ovule solitary, borne at apex of floral axis, erect. Seed sessile or pedunculate, drupelike or nutlike, partially enclosed in a succulent, saccate or cupular aril, or completely enclosed within aril; female gametophyte tissue abundant. Cotyledons 2. Germination epigeal, hypogeal in Torreya.
Trees or shrubs evergreen, usually neither resinous nor aromatic (sharp- or foul-odored in Torreya ), dioecious or monoecious. Bark scaly or fissured. Lateral branches well developed, similar to leading shoots; twigs terete, not densely clothed by leaves but ± ridged by decurrent leaf bases; longest internodes less than 1 cm; buds ± inconspicuous. Roots fibrous to woody. Leaves (needles) simple, persisting several years, shed singly, alternate [opposite], spirally arranged but often twisted so as to appear 2-ranked, linear to linear-lanceolate, decurrent; resin canals present or absent. Pollen cones maturing and shed annually, solitary or clustered, axillary on year-old branches, globose to ovoid, sporophylls bearing 2--16 microsporangia (pollen sacs); pollen ± spheric, not winged. Seed cones reduced to 1--2 ovules subtended by inconspicuous, decussate bracts, maturing in 1--2 seasons, axillary on year-old branches. Seeds 1 per "cone," erect, not winged, hard seed coat partially or wholly surrounded by a juicy, fleshy or leathery aril; cotyledons 2.
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