The largest of the so-called cedars, it grows to a height of 45m to 75m with a diameter of 1m to 2.5m.
The sapwood is narrow and white in colour, and the heartwood is reddish-brown. When freshly felled, the heartwood often displays a marked variation in colour; that from the centre of the log may be a dark chocolate-brown changing to salmon pink nearer the sapwood, or the wood may be variegated with alternate dark and light zones. After conventional high temperature kiln drying, the wood assumes a uniform reddish-brown tone, but after long exposure to weather the colour is lost, and the wood becomes silver-grey. This weathered appearance is sometimes purposely sought by architects, but a further peculiarity of the wood is its ability to take and hold stain of the finest tint without discolouration. The wood is non-resinous, straight-grained, somewhat coarse- textured and exhibits a fairly prominent growth-ring figure It is soft, rather brittle, aromatic, especially when wet and light in weight, about 390 kg/m³ when dried.