This tree has a name that slides off the tongue. Shishigashira, shhhhhhishigashira, shishhhhhhhhigashira, shishigasssssshhira, any way you say it, it’s fun. Especially fast, shishigashira. I wonder how to type a word that represents very quick speech. Slow speech is easy, lotttttssssss of lettttttttersssssssss. Fast speech? Shishigashira? No, bold doesn’t work, it’s too blocky and solid, not fast. Shishigashira, in italics is starting to get faster. I want to type in really small font, but can’t seem to do it on WordPress. So I settle with shishigashira in red italics, because italics seem slippery and red is the color of a fast car. Yes, it’s a good name and worth repeating out loud!
Shishigashira means ‘Lions Head’ and is a variety of Acer palmatum or Japanese Maple. This tree is all about shape and form. The tight leaves are held in clumps and are curly and crinkled next to the branches and stems. The whole effect is not soft and flowing, but rather of distinct shapes and spaces. This tree gives structure to the garden. It grows to a modest height of 12-15 feet tall in zones 5-8 and is well known for it’s fiery fall color. Here are the trees which sparked my interest. I was walking past Sammamish city hall after our last farmers market of the season and noticed this row of five Shishigashiras. They were giving off that feeling that often comes from this special tree…”I’m a Japanese Maple, love me!” I do love them, and also admired how each one was different in growth and pattern as they stood in a row. Do you have a favorite Japanese Maple?