Cupressus lusitanica is an evergreen tree, 35 m high, with a dense, conical crown. Branches spread out widely but terminate in pendulous branchlets. Trunk short, 70 cm in diameter. Bark on trunk is reddish-brown, exfoliating in long, narrow strips, eventually becoming roughened by the development of many short cracks. Branchlets covered with small, decussate, adpressed, acute, sessile, scale leaves with flexed tips. The distinctly bluish-green foliage is ovate, closely pressed, usually with long, pointed apex. Male flowers small, oblong or cylindrical; female subglobose, very small, composed of 6-14 fertile decussate scales with several ovules each. Cones ellipsoid; bluish-green when young turning reddish-brown when mature; 13-25 mm in diameter; composed of 6-12 woody, shieldlike scales, each bearing 8-10 seeds; male cones appear to be fat tips to branchlets and produce clouds of yellow pollen; female cones rounded, scales with central pointed projections. Seeds brown, with resin glands, up to 4 mm long, with a narrow wing. The Latin name ‘Cupresssus’ comes from the Greek ‘kuparissos’, which commemorates a youth of that name who was turned into a cypress tree by Apollo.