Acer palmatum Shishigashira is an old cultivar in the palmatum category. A medium sized tree with a most unusual characteristic – the leaves are small and crinkled around upright branches. In Japanese the name translates to Lion’s Head’ or Lion’s Mane based upon a mythical lion in Japanese drama because of its shape and growth habit. Bunched up, heavily curled leaves grow at the end of short stout shoots [say that 3 times, lol].

The foliage is deep green and firm to the touch. The tree structure is stiff – ¬†branches and leaves do not wave in the wind, as with most maples. This maple loves full sun and does not burn. Shishigashira is considered a slow growing tree suitable for bonsai enthusiasts. However, over fertilization may lead to rapid growth and an overall leggy look which is not desirable. Shishigashira like other Japanese maples benefits from some pruning to shape the tree, as well as removing any dead branches. We’ve pruned annually to keep our Shishigashira, in our display garden, around 6′ tall and wide.

The dark green foliage turns to orange with tints of red in the fall. The estimated height in 10 years is 12′. Once established this cultivar is hardy to -20 degrees, USDA zone 5.

Shishigashira like other Japanese maples benefits from pruning to shape the tree.  For more information see Pruning Japanese Maples.

The first photo is  Shishigashira in our display garden shows the beautiful green summer color. The second photo shows the beginning of the change to fall color Рorange red. The last photo shows a 2 gallon size just leafing out.