Monoecious trees often of immense size with clear straight boles below the globular crown, the large branches often turning irregularly upward; Bark at first quite smooth and light gray to reddish brown, peeling with large thin irregular flakes that gradually become thicker leaving a pitted somewhat rough reddish brown surface on larger trees. Following the cotyledons the leaves are little more than triangular scales with a distinct central vein and several lateral veins. Seed scale complex fused with the bract.
Asia-Tropical:, Malaya ‒ present; New Guinea ‒ present; Philippines (Philippines ‒ present) Pacific:, Fiji (Fiji ‒ present) Solomons: present coast of Queensland: present northern New Zealand: present
Three sections with 21 spp. from Malaya and the Philippines across New Guinea and the coast of Queensland to Fiji and northern New Zealand; in Malesia 11 spp. There is a gap in the Solomons. .
Fossil wood attributed to Agathis has been found in the Upper Cretaceous and Tertiary of New Zealand and from the Jurassic to the Tertiary in Australia, as well as in the Tertiary of Western Australia. Cone scales have been found in the northern hemisphere but the identification is uncertain ().
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