Description from Flora of China
Trees to 30 m tall; trunk to 3 m d.b.h.; bark grayish white or pale brown when young, finally gray-brown or red-brown, shallowly fissured; main branches whorled; branchlets drooping, green. Juvenile leaves changing gradually to adult state, needlelike, falcately curved forward, 1.5-2 cm × ca. 0.4 mm, apex tapered. Adult leaves dull green, scalelike, "S"-shaped-linear, 4-angled, 2-5 × 0.4-0.6 mm, stomatal rows (2 or)3-5 per surface, with remote, indistinct, stomatal dots, base decurrent, apex obliquely apiculate or obtuse and incurved. Pollen cones in clusters of 1-3, cylindric-ovoid, 0.8-1.2 cm × 1.5-2 mm; microsporophylls ovate, ca. 1 × 1 mm, centrally keeled, apex subacute. Seed-bearing structures sessile; bracts oblique, not fleshy. Epimatium red and fleshy when ripe. Seed ovoid, 4.5-5 × ca. 3 mm. Pollination Mar-May, seed maturity (Jun-) Oct-Nov.
A vulnerable species in China, formerly dominant in forests in Hainan but excessively logged for more than 20 years. The wood is used in constructing buildings and ships.
Treated in FRPS as Dacrydium pierrei Hickel, a synonym of D. elatum (Roxburgh) Wallich ex Hooker (London J. Bot. 2: 144. 1843) which occurs in Cambodia, Indonesia (Sumatra), Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. Dacrydium elatum was also recorded from China (Guangxi province) by Z. Z. Mao (in S. K. Lee & C. F. Liang, Fl. Guangxi 1: 60. 1991, as D. pierrei), but it is uncertain to which species this record refers because the accompanying illustration (pl. 23, f. 8-16) is a mixture of D. elatum and D. pectinatum. Dacrydium elatum has adult leaves imbricate, scalelike, to 1.5 mm (as in f. 12), showing an abrupt change from juvenile leaves, whereas D. pectinatum has adult leaves linear, quadrangular in cross section, 2-5 mm (as in f. 8), gradually changing from juvenile leaves.
Coniferous, broad-leaved, and mixed tropical montane forests on montane yellow-earth or red-earth soils on sunny, gently sloping ridges; (300-)600-1200(-2100) m. Hainan [Indonesia (Borneo and nearby islands), Philippines]