Lions Head Japanese Maple – Shishigashira

Thanks to the Honey Tree Nursery for this information on our newest Japanese Maple.

Acer Palmatum “Shishigashira”

Also known as ‘Lion’s Head’ is a small Japanese maple. It grows in a stiff vase shape. The lion’s head maple has short stubby twigs growing from short branches covered with dense deep green foliage.

Mature specimens form a broad oval. This combined with the densely layered ruffled branches give it the appearance of a lion’s head, especially with the outstanding deep orange and yellow gold fall foliage. The lion’s head maple is one of the last trees to turn color in the fall. It could be November before the foliage begins to take on a golden color.

It has attractive green foliage which emerges red in spring. The crinkled palm-shaped leaves are ornamentally significant and turn an outstanding harvest gold in the fall. It features subtle corymbs of burgundy flowers rising above the foliage in mid spring before the leaves. It produces red samara from early to mid fall. The rough gray bark and red branches add an interesting dimension to the landscape.

Zone: 5 to 8


Hardiness: hardy
Height: 18 feet
Container Height: 12 feet
Spread: 15 feet wide
Growth rate: upright – moderate.
Spring Foliage: redgreen

Summer Foliage: green
Fall Foliage: harvest orange
Sun: sun to filtered sun  or partial shade
Maintenance: Low

Below are photos of our Shishigashira sitting on our deck. It sits about 6.5 feet tall including the pot.

Lions Head Japanese Maple - Shishigashira

Lions Head Japanese Maple – Shishigashira – sitting on my deck.

Lions Head Japanese Maple - Shishigashira

Lions Head Japanese Maple – Shishigashira – sitting on my deck.

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16 Responses to Lions Head Japanese Maple – Shishigashira

  1. Maria says:

    Real interesting tree the lions head and just would have loved more pics of it . You said it had a vase shape, a front view from a little distance would have been…GREAT. We are planing to take down about 4 giant oaks that are a danger to roof and power lines and were looking for smaller trees to put in. My husband really likes the Japanese trees because aside from being beautiful you don’t have to worry about them becoming monster trees. Thanks for the look see!

  2. Karen says:

    Ok, Maria, I’ll add a couple of photos of our tree sitting on the deck.

    Hope this helps!

  3. Julia says:

    I have a magnificent lions head 8″ round base, kept cut back to no higher than 4 1/2 feet in a extremely large round marble planter…To match a Japaneese red laceleaf as large, In Ct but want to take to my FL home.North Key Largo. Can it last inside?

  4. Karen says:

    Hi Julia:

    From what I understand, Japanese Maples (most) will do very well in shade. I have not, however, heard of them being happy inside. If you’re going to Florida, why do you need it inside? Perhaps out on a deck?

    Let me know what you do and how it survives!

  5. vivian gerard says:

    my lions head maple is getting some white growth on the stems i just noticed this what should i do

  6. Karen says:

    Sounds like the same little white aphids that get on roses or tomatoes. I’d cut off what you can and get a horticulture oil to spray on the ends to keep the little varmints from coming back.

    Good luck!

  7. Valerie says:

    How does a Lion’s Head Maple look in a Japanese garden above a stone retaining wall.

  8. Karen says:

    Absolutely gorgeous, Valerie!

  9. Celia Purcell says:

    Hi Karen,
    How do you prune a Lion’s head so it doesn’t get larger than 10 feet tall.?

  10. Karen says:

    Hi Celia:

    What I’ve continued to do with mine year after year is trim the top as new growth shoots up. I want to be able to trim mine all the way around, so mine is staying no more than 6 feet tall. That’s the easiest way I know to control height unless you want to dig up the plant and trim the roots!

    Good luck to you and thanks for asking.

  11. MM says:

    I live in zone 7B. I bought a lions head but I’m getting conflicting recommendations for our Arkansas sun. Right now I have planted on the south East corner of house with drip line running to it. Will it be safe with morning sun and evening shade or do I need to move it to more sunny location?

  12. Fran Orendas says:

    My 3 year old Lions Head Maple is sprouting leaves only at the base and seems like the middle and top branches are bare of leaves. Will the leaves come back? Should I trim the tree down to where the leaves are?

  13. Karen says:

    Hi MM:
    Nope, no need to move it. I had mine in 100% shade and it did great.

    Too much sun can burn these out! I think your spot is right on. Keep us posted!

  14. Karen says:

    Hi Fran:

    I’d wait another month or two but, if near summer you still have bare branches, lob those off. I’m constantly pruning mine!

    Thanks for asking and good luck with your tree!

  15. Austin Schlarb says:

    I was wondering how often do you water the lion head maple? I live in indiana and it did great after the first year but I didn’t water it after a few weeks and everything looks dead except two leaves at the base. I water it weekly now. Do you think I should wake a year to see if it comes back?

  16. Karen says:

    Mine is outside in almost 100% shade so I don’t have to water very often – only when we haven’t had rain for a week or so. It’s also in a normally wet area of the shaded garden.

    However, for you, I looked it up online and found this:
    “Plan to water heavily twice a week during normal weather and three or even four times weekly in periods of drought. Whether your tree is young or mature, it will grow best in soil kept consistently moist by regular watering and mulching.”

    I hope this helps and thanks for asking!

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