The leaves are spirally arranged on the shoots, but twisted at the base to lie in two flat ranks (except on erect leading shoots); they are linear, 4-12 cm long and 3-4 mm broad, soft in texture, with a blunt tip; this helps distinguish them from the related genus Torreya, which has spine-tipped leaves.
The species can be either monoecious or dioecious; when monoecious, the male and female cones are often on different branches. The male (pollen) cones are 5-8 mm long, grouped in lines along the underside of a shoot. The female (seed) cones are single or grouped 2-15 together on short stems; minute at first, they mature in about 18 months to a drupe-like structure with the single large nut-like seed 1.5-4 cm long surrounded by a fleshy covering, green to purple at full maturity. Natural dispersal is thought to be aided by squirrels which bury the seeds for a winter food source; any seeds left uneaten are then able to germinate.