Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira’

Japanese Acer, Japanese Maple


Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira,’ also known as Lion’s Head Maple, is a captivating Japanese maple cultivar with unique and intriguing features. Its dense clusters of crinkled, deeply lobed leaves resemble a lion’s mane, adding a touch of visual interest to any landscape. With shades of green in spring and summer, ‘Shishigashira’ transforms into a breathtaking display of fiery orange and crimson hues in autumn.

This slow-growing deciduous tree reaches a height of about 1.8 to 3 metres, making it an ideal choice for smaller gardens or container planting. ‘Shishigashira’ thrives in partial shade and well-draining soil, making it a stunning focal point in any Japanese-style garden or landscape.


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Origin: Japan, Korea, China, eastern Mongolia, and southeast Russia
Genus: Acer
Species / Cultivar: palmatum 'Shishigashira'
Common Name: Japanese Acer, Japanese Maple
Synonym: Acer palmatum 'Shishi-gashira', Acer palmatum 'Ribesifolium', Acer palmatum 'Ribesifolium'

Plant Biography

The background of Acer palmatum hybrids can be traced back to Japan, where the parent species, Acer palmatum, is native. Over centuries, Japanese gardeners and horticulturists selectively bred and cultivated various varieties of Acer palmatum to enhance specific traits, such as leaf shapes, colours, and growth habits. These efforts resulted in a rich diversity of Acer palmatum cultivars, celebrated for their exquisite and ornamental features. In the 19th and 20th centuries, these hybrids found their way to Europe and North America, captivating gardeners worldwide. Today, Acer palmatum hybrids continue to be cherished and extensively cultivated, gracing landscapes and gardens with their mesmerising foliage and adding a touch of elegance and sophistication to outdoor spaces.

Acer palmatum 'Shishigashira'
Soil: Moist but Well Drained
Soil that allows water to drain at a moderate rate, without the water pooling.
Growth Rate: Slow
This plant is particularly slow to grow, even during growing season.
Maintenance: A little
Easy to look after but may occasionally require some attention in order to thrive.
Situation: Part Shade to Full Shade
Can enjoy several hours of direct sunlight, but also happy in full shade.
Eventual Height: 1.8-3m
The plant's ultimate height in typical growing conditions.
Eventual Spread: 1.4-2.5m
The plant's ultimate spread in typical growing conditions.
Hardiness: Fully Hardy
Will survive unprotected outdoors in most areas of the UK, even in the harshest winters.
Care & Size Guidance

Care & Size Guidance

Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira’ requires minimal care to thrive. Plant it in a location with partial shade, as direct sunlight can scorch its delicate foliage. Ensure the soil is well-draining and consistently moist, but not waterlogged. Mulching around the base helps retain moisture and regulate soil temperature. Prune sparingly to maintain its natural shape and remove any dead or diseased branches. Protect it from strong winds, which can damage its crinkled leaves.

‘Shishigashira’ is one of the smaller-growing cultivars of Japanese Acer, taking approximately 20 years to reach a maximum of 3 metres in height, making it perfect for large containers.

With its relatively low maintenance needs, ‘Shishigashira’ rewards gardeners with its mesmerising foliage and elegant form, making it a prized addition to any landscape.

Expert Tip

Add a thick layer of mulch, such as bark chippings, to conserve soil moisture.


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