Young trees of the Pencil Cedar are readily recognized by their straight, unbranched trunk (up to 6 m), with an almost palm-like top of long, divided leaves.
The leaves may be up to a metre long and are made up of up to 30 pairs of leaflets as well as a terminal one. These leaflets may be finely toothed along their edges and there is always a gland on the leaf stalk between each pair.
Older trees taller than 8 m become more branched and may at first be confused with the Red Cedar, Toona australis, (though this isn't found on the Robertson plateau). The leaves of the Red Cedar are much shorter (about 30 cm long) and the bark is scaly and shed in pieces, whereas the bark of the Pencil Cedar is smooth, with corky spots.
The flowers are very small, but numerous, and occur in large, branching sprays in late summer. The small, pale-blue fruit is usually bilobed and flattened on 2 sides, with 2 seeds. Pencil Cedar can be propagated from fresh seed and, although it is often found in disturbed areas, it needs good drainage and protection from strong winds.
Distribution: Howe Range (Vic) to Atherton (Nth Q1d), and into New Guinea.