WSU Clark County Extension

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Shishigashira Japanese Maple

Scientific name: Acer palmatum 'Shishigashira'

Type:Deciduous tree
Plant Requirements
Zone:5 to 8
Sun:Full to partial sun
Plant Characteristics
Height:15 ft
Width:10 ft
Bloom:Spring flowers
Bloom Time:April to May
Bloom Color:Red
Additional Characteristics



Wildlife value

Description With its curly leaves, highly layered look and brilliant scarlet fall foliage, this popular garden tree is called Lion’s Head Japanese maple.

This deciduous tree grows slowly to a mature height of 10’-15’ The leaves are small, deeply cut & curled, forming dense tufts along twisted branches. The foliage is bright green or yellow-green in spring & summer, turning orange & rust-red very late in autumn or early winter. In a good year when the weather hits it the right way, the autumn golds and reds of the leaves are extremely vibrant. This lends to the name Lion's Head’ as if describing a fierce lion's fiery mane. This cultivar grows in the shape of broad-rounded tree.

Small reddish-purple flowers appear in April and can be considered attractive when viewed up close. Flowers are followed by samaras that ripen in late summer to fall.

The bark ages a very pretty shade of yellow, being the brightest in the winter months.

Lion’s Head Japanese maple grows well in moist, organically rich, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best performance is in sun-dappled part shade, but best fall color is usually in full sun. It is best to avoid hot and dry sites. Avoid a site that is exposed to strong winter winds.

In the Pacific Northwest bacterial canker is the only real problem on Japanese maples.
For assistance, contact Dr. Charles Brun (, (360) 397-6060 5701
Computing and Web Resources, PO Box 6234, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-6234