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Cherokee Brave vs Cherokee Chief Dogwood: 5 Key Differences

The dogwood tree has become increasingly popular among homeowners, and it’s easy to see why. With its stunning appearance and low maintenance needs, the dogwood sets itself apart from other flowering trees. This combination of beauty and ease of care makes it a standout choice for gardens and landscapes.

The primary difference between the Cherokee Brave Dogwood and the Cherokee Chief Dogwood lies in their flower colors. The Cherokee Brave Dogwood features distinct pink flowers with a white center, giving a two-toned appearance, while the Cherokee Chief Dogwood’s flowers are uniformly deep red.

Additionally, while both trees exhibit attractive red fall foliage, the shade and intensity may vary between the two cultivars. These subtle differences in flower color and foliage tone are key factors for gardeners deciding which tree best fits their landscape’s color scheme.

Cherokee Brave vs Cherokee Chief Dogwood

Cherokee Brave and Cherokee Chief Dogwood

Cornus florida Cherokee Brave Cornus florida Cherokee Chief
Hardiness zone 5-9 5-9
Mature height 20-30′ (6-9m) 15-20′ (4.5-6 m)
Mature width 25-35′ (7.5-11m) 15-30′ (4.5-9 m)
Growth rate fast fast
Light exposure full sun, partial shade full sun, partial shade
Soil moist, drained moist, drained
Soil pH 6.1-7.0 6.1-7.0
Watering One time per week in a drought One time per week in a drought
Diseases fungus fungus
Pests insects, mites insects, mites

Their flowers have some differences

The Cherokee Brave Dogwood is known for its red-pink petals, which can vary from pure pink to crimson. A distinctive feature of this variety is the white center of each flower, creating a mosaic-like appearance.

In contrast, the Cherokee Chief Dogwood boasts a dark red hue, similar to that of red roses, and lacks the white center. Instead, the tips of its petals may occasionally be white, while the Cherokee Brave typically has red-tipped petals.

The Cherokee Chief is also notable for its larger, bright red bracts that enhance the beauty of its flowers. On the other hand, the Cherokee Brave has bracts as well, but they are less prominent and not as vividly colored.

Both varieties bloom around the same time, from April to May, and neither is known for reblooming. Each variety brings its unique charm to a garden, with distinct colors and floral features.

Cherokee Brave is more vigorous

The Cherokee Brave Dogwood tends to grow faster and more robustly than its counterpart. At maturity, it can reach up to 30 feet in height and 35 feet in width, making it a fairly large tree. Adequate space is essential for its growth, as it requires ample room for air circulation.

In contrast, the Cherokee Chief Dogwood is somewhat smaller, capable of growing up to 20 feet tall and 30 feet wide. This makes it a more compact option, well-suited for medium-sized gardens.

A notable aspect of the Cherokee Brave is its slightly denser branching, leading to a fuller display of foliage and flowers. While this difference is subtle, it does add to the tree’s overall appearance.

It’s important to note that these trees may not always reach their maximum size. Under less favorable conditions, they might grow to be more compact.


The origins of the Cherokee Chief date back to the early 1950s. This variety emerged as a bud mutation in a Tennessee nursery, discovered by Isaac J. Hawkersmith.

On the other hand, the Cherokee Brave, also known as Cornus florida ‘Comco No. 1’, was selected from numerous seedlings due to its distinctive qualities. The person credited with its development is Hubert Nicholson.

Leaves color

The Cherokee Brave not only boasts stunning flowers but also features decorative foliage. In spring, as the leaves unfold, they display a rich burgundy-red hue, gradually transitioning to bronze or brownish-green.

In comparison, the young leaves of the Cherokee Chief are also red but are less vibrant and the color fades more quickly. By summer, its leaves turn a solid green, without any other color hints.

An added advantage of the Cherokee Brave is its slightly higher leaf count, attributed to its more branched structure, resulting in a denser foliage. Consequently, the Cherokee Brave presents a more interesting leaf coloration and a fuller appearance compared to its counterpart.

Come autumn, both varieties turn a striking red, making their foliage look quite similar and equally spectacular. Following leaf fall, both trees bear a large number of red berries, adding to their ornamental appeal.

Cherokee Brave is more disease resistant

The Cherokee Brave is known for its superior resistance to fungal diseases, making it a more robust choice compared to other dogwoods.

This variety shows remarkable resilience against anthracnose and powdery mildew, common afflictions of dogwood trees. It remains largely unaffected by these diseases, except during prolonged periods of rain and overcast weather, where its susceptibility may increase slightly.

While the Cherokee Chief may not be as disease-resistant, it can still be cultivated successfully with some care. Regular treatment with a fungicide, at least once a season, can effectively protect the Cherokee Chief from these common diseases.