An erect shrub to 3 m tall. Shoots with curved hairs; older bark scarcely shredding. Leaves 10–25 × 7–15 mm, ovate, with tapered base and an acute or apiculate tip; dark green above, paler beneath and sometimes with short hairs, not lobed or toothed; petiole 1–2 mm. Flowers in August, singly or paired in axils or in a short, terminal, few-flowered spike, pendent, each with 2 bracts. Calyx irregularly 5-toothed, the teeth more or less acute; corolla narrowly bell-shaped to tubular, 9–10 mm long, pink, its lobes equal, ovate and one third the length of the corolla, pubescent inside; stamens 5, slightly longer than the lobes; anthers half the length of the filaments; style glabrous, 4–5 mm long (shorter than the tube); fruit white or pink-tinged, translucent, 7–9 mm wide; nutlets flattened, 3 × 2 mm. (Jones 1940).
Distribution Guatemala In mountains Honduras In mountains Mexico In mountains, from Chihuahua S to Chiapas United States New Mexico
Habitat Slopes in open mountain forests, to 3000 m asl.
USDA Hardiness Zone 9
RHS Hardiness Rating H4
Conservation status Not evaluated (NE)
Symphoricarpos microphyllus is distinct in its small leaves in combination with a tall but neat habit, with many short spreading branches (Jones 1940); the pearl-like, almost translucent and pink-flushed fruit are also distinctive and attractive. It is rather tender, though its traditional zone 9 allocation in the United States probably underestimates its toughness, given enough water through the growing season. The species was in cultivation in France by the start of the 20th century, to serve as one parent of the pink-fruiting S. × chenaultii which has since almost entirely replaced it as a garden plant. The species has survived since 1961 out-of-doors in the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh 2021) and is represented in the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens from a collection made by Allen Coombes in Veracruz in 1995 (Coombes 236) (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh 2021).