Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira’

lion's head Japanese maple

Outstanding Qualities

Acer palmatum 'Shishigashira', commonly called the lion’s head maple, is a very popular and striking cultivar. This is a slow upright grower with dense tufts of crinkled deep green foliage on each branch, looking somewhat like the mane of a lion. The leaves are resistant to burning in full sun and develop a good golden yellow fall color brushed with red-orange. It tends to be one of the latest Japanese maples to color in the fall. Shishigashira makes a great container plant. When placed in the garden it has a sculptural feel that only improves with age.

Colors & Combos

Great Plant Combinations: Hosta ‘Halcyon’, Fothergilla ‘Mount Airy’, Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Spiralis’, Acer palmatum ‘Viridis’, Dryopteris wallichiana

Great Color Contrasts: red, burgundy

Great Color Partners: blue, green

Culture Notes

This slow growing upright maple develops the best fall foliage color in full sun to open shade. Japanese maples are surprisingly flexible in their soil requirements. Although they will grow best in a rich well-drained soil, they will also do well in sandy soils and clay. To prevent the leaves from burning at the tips avoid hot locations and water the tree regularly during dry weather. Well pruned Japanese maples are an art form in the garden and require an expert touch, so consult an experienced pruner or take local classes before attempting to prune.

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Quick Facts

Plant Type: upright tree

Foliage Type: deciduous

Plant Height: 6 ft. 0 in. (1.83 m.)

Plant Width/Spread: 4 ft. 0 in. (1.22 m.)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 6 to 9

Sun/Light Exposure: full sun or light to dappled shade

Water Requirements: regular watering