|A young tree in cultivation|
It is common in the western Himalayas, eastern Afghanistan, northern Pakistan, north-central India (states such as Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand. It is also local to Kashmir, southwesternmost Tibet and western Nepal.
It grows in places that are 1500–3200 m above sea level. It is a large evergreen coniferous tree reaching 40–50 m tall, exceptionally 60 m, with a trunk up to 3m thick. It has a cone-shaped crown with level branches and drooping branchlets.
The leaves are needle-like, mostly 2.5–5 cm long. It occasionally grows up to 7 cm long. It can be very thin (1 mm thick), borne singly on long shoots, and in dense clusters of 20-30 on short shoots. Its colours range from bright green to glaucous blue-green.
The female cones are barrel-shaped, 7–13 cm long and 5–9 cm broad, and break up when mature (in 12 months) to release the winged seeds. The male cones are 4–6 cm long, and shed their pollen in autumn.