An evergreen tree 60 to 80 ft high, with more or less downy young shoots. Leaves 1 to nearly 2 in. long, 1⁄12 in. wide, notched at the tips, grooved on the upper surface, marked with a whitish band of stomata at each side of the prominent midrib beneath. Cones 2 to 21⁄2 in. long, 11⁄4 to 11⁄2 in. wide, egg-shaped, distinctly stalked. The exposed, three-lobed part of the bracts is bent sharply back over the scales, the central lobe awl-shaped, the side ones triangular.
Native of Yunnan, China; discovered in 1914 by Forrest in mixed forests in the Mekong Valley at 10,000 ft, and introduced by him at the same time under F.13003. Plants were raised in the Edinburgh Botanic Garden, at Leonardslee and at Caerhays, but it has always been very rare in collections, being susceptible to damage by spring frosts. According to the Austrian botanist Handel-Mazzetti, who saw this tree during his travels in Yunnan, it is of a cedar-like habit in the wild, with horizontally spreading branches, and has a smooth bark.
In describing P. forrestii, Craib compared it to P. sinensis, giving as the difference that in P. forrestii the leaves are longer, the cones larger, and the bracts much longer. It is even more closely allied to P. wilsoniana (see below).
P. wilsoniana Hayata – This species, a native of Formosa, has not been introduced to cultivation, so far as is known. It was at first identified by Hayata with P. japonica, but Wilson, who was shown a herbarium specimen during his visit to Japan in 1914, expressed the view that it represented a distinct species, and in the following year Hayata described it as such, naming it after Wilson. It seems to be very closely allied to P. forrestii, and in many recent works the two have been united under the name P. wilsoniana, which has priority. But so little is known about either that it seems better to keep them separate for the time being. It should be added that, if the two are really one and the same species, we have an example of disjunct distribution very similar to that shown by Taiwania cryptomerioides (q.v. in Vol. IV).