Trees to 22m; trunk to 2.6m diam., erect or leaning; crown broadly conic to irregular. Bark gray to salmon or cinnamon, platy or irregularly deep-fissured or with irregular blocky plates. Branches contorted, ascending to descending; twigs red-brown, aging gray to drab yellow-gray, glabrous or puberulent, young branches resembling long bottlebrushes because of persistent leaves. Buds ovoid-acuminate, red-brown, 0.8--1cm, resinous. Leaves 5 per fascicle, upcurved, persisting 10--30 years, 1.5--4cm ´ 1--1.4mm, mostly connivent, deep blue- to deep yellow-green, abaxial surface without median groove but usually with 2 subepidermal but evident resin bands, adaxial surfaces conspicuously whitened by stomates, margins mostly entire to blunt, apex broadly acute to acuminate; sheath 0.5--1cm, soon forming rosette, shed early. Pollen cones ellipsoid, ca. 6--10mm, red. Seed cones maturing in 2 years, shedding seeds and falling soon thereafter, spreading, symmetric, lance-cylindric with conic base before opening, broadly lance-ovoid or ovoid to cylindric or ovoid-cylindric when open, 6--9(--11)cm, purple, aging red-brown, nearly sessile; apophyses much thickened, rounded, larger toward cone base; umbo central, usually depressed; prickle absent or weak, to 1mm, resin exudates amber. Seeds ellipsoid to narrowly obovoid; body to 10mm, pale brown, mottled with deep red; wing 10--12mm. 2 n =24. Timberline and alpine meadows; of conservation concern; 1500--3500m; Calif. Plants shown to be genetically distinct from the type (differences in chemistry, form, foliage, cone orientation, and seeds) have been called Pinus balfouriana subsp. austrina R.Mastrogiuseppe & J.Mastrogiuseppe. As in several other species or species complexes in Pinus , however, there is a problem with a character gradient involving related taxa. The evidence presented by D.K. Bailey (1970) and later by R.J. Mastrogiuseppe and J.D. Mastrogiuseppe (1980) could as well be used to indicate that P . balfouriana (with its two infraspecific taxa) and P . longaeva represent a single species of three subspecies or three varieties. The more conservative view of Bailey is followed here.