A deciduous shrub or small tree up to 40 ft high in the wild, the trunk 6 to 18 in. in diameter, with a thin, loose, peeling bark; young shoots glabrous. Leaves alternate, ovate, ovate-lanceolate or oval, tapered or rounded at the base, pointed, slightly or not at all toothed, 11⁄2 to 4 in. long, 1⁄2 to 11⁄2 in. wide, dark green and glabrous above, very pale or whitish beneath and downy along the midrib; stalk 1⁄3 to 1 in. long. Flowers of the ordinary fuchsia shape, pendulous, solitary in the leaf-axils, 3⁄4 to 11⁄4 in. long. Calyx-tube swollen at the base, then, after forming a neck, developing a funnel-shaped tube, finally dividing into four spreading wide-lanceolate, acute lobes 1⁄3 in. long, the colour greenish, greenish-purple, or dull red. Petals four, small, showing their pointed purplish tips between the lobes of the calyx. Stamens eight, very variable in length. Fruits 1⁄2 in. long, purplish black, juicy.
Native of New Zealand; introduced about 1820. It is very distinct among fuchsias by reason of its alternate leaves and by the globular swelling at the base of the calyx-tube. It cannot be compared with the S. American species in beauty of blossom, but it is interesting in its peeling bark. It grows to a large size in the milder parts of the country.
F. colensoi Hook. f. – A very variable species, allied to the preceding. It is usually a low rambling shrub with long straggling procumbent branches. Leaves very variable in shape and size but usually much smaller than in F. excorticata and more or less ovate. Flowers very like those of F. excorticata.