Cherokee Brave vs Cherokee Chief Dogwood: What’s the Difference Between These Two?


Nowadays, the dogwood tree has gained immense popularity among homeowners. And this is not surprising because due to the excellent appearance and low maintenance requirements, it stands alone compared to other flowering trees.

Wide popularity always means a wide choice of varieties. And so it is, among the red-flowering dogwood trees, there are two varieties to which special attention is paid, and their names are Cherokee Brave and Cherokee Chief Dogwood.

The first difference between these two varieties is their origin.

The story of the Cherokee Chief begins in the early 50s of the last century. This variety was found as a bud mutation in a nursery in Tennessee. Name of the originator Isaac J. Hawkersmith.

Cherokee Brave has another name Cornus florida ‘Comco No. 1 ‘. It was selected from a large number of seedlings because of certain features, which we will discuss below. The originator of this tree is Hubert Nicholson.

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
Cherokee Brave and Cherokee Chief Dogwood
Cherokee Brave and Cherokee Chief Dogwood

Their flowers have some differences

The first thing that makes flowers different is their color. Cherokee Brave has red-pink petals, and sometimes it can even be pure pink or crimson. While the Cherokee Chief has a dark red color, the same as red roses have.

The second difference is that the center of each Cherokee Brave flower is white. This adds more interest to this variety as the flowers look more mosaic.

Cherokee Chief does not have a white center of flowers; they are entirely red. However, the tips of the petals of this variety can sometimes be white. At the same time, the tips of the petals of the competitor are mostly red.

You can see the difference between these varieties’ flowers in the picture at the beginning of the article.

Feature of Cherokee Chief are bracts of the increased size and bright red color. This adds charm to the already gorgeous flowers.

Cherokee Brave also has bracts, but they are not as pronounced and brightly colored as competitors.

When it comes to flowers, it’s hard to say which of the two looks better. Each of them is beautiful in its own way. They bloom in about the same period, from April to May. None of these varieties are reblooming.

Whichever you prefer, it is essential to plant them in a place with sufficient access to direct sunlight because otherwise, they will bloom poorly.

For 5-6 hardiness zones, they need at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight, but it is better if you put them in full sun where they will get more than 10 hours of sun.

For the southern states (8-9 zones), dogwood needs partial shading. If you live in such a climate, plant these trees in a place where they will receive up to 6 hours of the morning sun, and the rest of the day will be in the shade. With an excess of sun, the flowers will not be so bright or will burn.

Often during the spring drought, the flowering period lasts a short period. This is due to the fact that the plants do not have enough moisture for full flowering.

Therefore, if you want to get an extended flowering period, you need to water the dogwood at least once a week in the absence of rain.

Cherokee Brave is more vigorous

The Cherokee Brave is growing faster and more vigorously than its competitor. In maturity, it will be 30 feet high and 35 feet wide. This is a fairly large tree for which you need to allocate enough space because, for good growth, it needs more free space around for air circulation.

The Cherokee Chief is slightly smaller. It can reach up to 20 feet in height and up to 30 in width. That is, it is a more compact tree that is suitable for medium-sized gardens.

As you can see from the size, both of these varieties have a mushroom-shaped crown, i.e., they form a wide canopy under which you can organize picnics.

The Cherokee Brave’s peculiarity is that it is slightly more branched, and as a result, it has more foliage and flowers. The difference is barely noticeable, but still.

Do not always these flowering trees will have the maximum size. If the conditions are not favorable, they can be more compact.

If your goal is to get a large dogwood, in addition to sufficient lighting and watering, which I have already written about, you need to provide other conditions for these plants.

First of all, mulch the surface around the trunk. Compost is best for this. It will not allow the soil to dry out too quickly and protect the roots from too high and from too low temperatures. Mulching is most important in the first few years after planting.

It would be best if you also fed the dogwood at least once a year. Slow-release fertilizers will be the best solution. Apply them in early spring, and the tree will be supplied with micronutrients throughout the season.

Leaves color

Cherokee Brave, in addition to beautiful flowers, also has decorative foliage. This is especially noticeable in the spring when the leaves begin to unfold; it has a burgundy-red color. Over time, it becomes bronze or brownish-green.

Cherokee Chief also has young red leaves, but the color is not as bright, and it does not last as long as the competitor. By summer, the leaves turn green without a hint of any other hue.

Another advantage of the Cherokee Brave foliage is that the number of leaves is slightly larger than that of the Cherokee Chief. As I mentioned earlier, the Cherokee Brave is a more branched tree, so the number of leaves is greater.

As a result, the Cherokee Brave has a more exciting leaf color and looks lusher than the competitor.

In autumn, both of these varieties are painted bright red, and their foliage becomes very similar. At this time, they look just fabulous.

After the leaves fall, a large number of red berries remain on the branches, which also have a decorative effect.

Cherokee Brave is more disease resistant

Cherokee Brave is considered to be the variety that best copes with various fungal diseases. Indeed, this dogwood is more resistant to disease than others.

The biggest enemies of dogwood are anthracnose and powdery mildew. Cherokee Brave is almost not susceptible to these diseases, except for too long a period of rain and cloudy weather.

Although Cherokee Chief is not so resistant to disease, you can still grow it quite successfully. All you need is to spray this tree with a fungicide at least once a season, and everything will be fine.

Igor Viznyy

Hi friends, I have been growing plants for many years and love doing it. You can find more information on the page About Author.

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