A shrub 1 to 6 ft high in the wild, occasionally taller; young stems reddish, with curled white hairs. Leaves narrow-elliptic to oblanceolate, 3⁄16 to 3⁄4 in. long, 1⁄8 to 3⁄8 in. wide, cuneate at the base, coarsely toothed in the upper half or two-thirds, margins ciliate, otherwise almost glabrous, glossy above, of leathery texture; leaf-stalk up to 1⁄4 in. long. Flowers on slender hairy stalks 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long. Tube dull pale red, cylindric or very slightly widening upward, about 5⁄16 in. long, glabrous or almost so; sepals coloured like the tube, about 3⁄16 in. long, acute, spreading or slightly reflexed. Petals deep rosy pink, broad-obovate, about as long as the sepals, retuse and pleated at the apex. Ovary slightly hairy. Stamens eight, the four opposite the sepals slightly exserted. Style exserted with four white, linear spreading lobes, arranged in the form of a cross. Fruits black, globose.
A native of Central America. It is a variable species, in which five subspecies are recognised by D. E. Breedlove in Systematics of Fuchsia section Encliandra (1969). The above description is of the typical subspecies, which is common in Mexico at high altitudes, often in association with Abies religiosa, and was introduced in 1828. The description is made from a cultivated plant known to derive from wild seeds. In other forms of this subspecies the stems may be almost glabrous or the hairs brown, not white, and there is some variation in the colour of the flowers. Also, the species is gynodioecious, some plants bearing perfect flowers as described above, others female flowers only. The true F. microphylla has been so little cultivated until recently that nothing useful can be said about its hardiness, though it should survive most winters in a sheltered place.
subsp. hidalgensis (Munz) Breedlove F. minimiflora var. hidalgensis Munz – Flowers white, with reflexed sepals. Branchlets clad with golden-brown hairs. In cultivation under the name F. minimiflora.