Pinus roxburghii is a large tree reaching 30-50 m with a trunk diameter of up to 2 m, exceptionally 3 m. The bark is red-brown, thick and deeply fissured at the base of the trunk, thinner and flaky in the upper crown. The leaves are needle-like, in fascicles of three, very slender, 20-35 cm long, and distinctly yellowish green.
The cones are ovoid conic, 12-24 cm long and 5-8 cm broad at the base when closed, green at first, ripening glossy chestnut-brown when 24 months old. They open slowly over the next year or so, or after being heated by a forest fire, to release the seeds, opening to 9-18 cm broad. The seeds are 8-9 mm long, with a 40 mm wing, and are wind-dispersed.
Chir Pine is closely related to Canary Island Pine, Turkish Pine and Maritime Pine, which all share many features with it. It is a relatively non-variable species, with constant morphology over the entire range.