One or two species of conifers, tall evergreen trees having narrow crowns and branches irregularly in whorls. Leaves narrow, stiff, leathery, sharply pointed, spirally arranged but 2 ranked. Female flower terminal in somewhat spherical cones. Two species were once recognized, Cunninghamia lanceolata and C. konishii, often referred to as the China-fir and the Taiwan-fir. Molecular genetic evidence suggests that they may be the same species, and that C. konishii of Taiwan derive from multiple colorizations from the mainland. The Taiwan-fir is now referred to as Cunninghamia lanceolata var. konishii.
Cunninghamia: after James Cunningham (he spelled his name Cuninghame), a surgeon/botanist. In 1698 he was sent to China by the East India Co. "He was the first Englishman [actually a Scotsman] to make botanical collections in China" (Dictonary of National Biography). He sent over 600 Chinese botanical specimens to Britain. He discovered C. lanceolata in 1701.