Thread: Cherokee Tomato
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Old January 14, 2015   #3
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Evansville, IN
Posts: 2,987

While Kath's reply provides a link to a relatively helpful Web page, the "Cherokee" tomatoes listed there are not a complete listing, and a couple of the descriptions given are incomplete or duplicative.

The cultivar known as Cherokee is the same as the variety sometimes referred to as "Cherokee Red." Look at the description for Cherokee, and you will get most of the info on that variety. It was developed at North Carolina State University (NCSU) as a determinate, large, red, round tomato, and used as one parent in the old standard Mountain Pride hybrid tomato.

You may see "Cherokee Red Potato Leaf" also listed, but with no information given. I've never really seen this variety discussed anywhere, and have doubts as to its relationship to either Cherokee Purple or the Cherokee (Red) from NCSU.

Now as to the "Cherokee" tomatoes commonly thought of as heirloom types, they begin with Cherokee Purple, which soon threw a mutation or outcross known as Cherokee Chocolate which in turn threw a mutation or segregation now called Cherokee Green, which in turn reportedly is the direct source line for Golden Cherokee, a yellow/red bicolor (which sort of defies the accepted thinking that green when ripe genetics is homozygous stable for a green fleshed tomato).

Subsequent to the appearance of Golden Cherokee, seeds from one of its fruit threw three new types: one called Cherokee Lemon (pure yellow flesh with clear epidermis), which the next year threw both the pure yellow type and yet another green when ripe line now called Cherokee Lime (pure green when ripe with clear epidermis), and the third type being a lumpy, red fleshed, yellow epidermis, potato leaf segregate with no name, and which remains undistributed.

Now back to Cherokee Purple, Potato Leaf. Yes, as stated at Tatiana's Tomatobase, one type was found by Gere Gettle in his garden in Missouri; but the other type mentioned at Tomatobase was found in a home garden in Ohio at about the same time (1995), and given by the Ohio gardener to Bill Malin who named it Spudakee.

Those two Cherokee Purple, Potato Leaf types are two completely separate discoveries, and the Spudakee line from Malin went on to be widely distributed and generally well liked for it's early maturity, great production, and remarkable vine health and heat tolerance. On the other hand, Gettle marketed his Missouri find through his seed sales company, and unfortunately, about 5 or 6 years ago, something happened at one of his contract seed grower's garden which resulted in orange pear shaped and plum shaped fruit rather than the beautiful, large, purple beefsteak standard for Cherokee Purple. I have not seen or heard about the Missouri type since then.

The Cherokee Tiger types listed at Tomatobase are just a sampling of the dozens of lines, some stable and some wildly unstable at this time, resulting from a cross of Tigerette (dwarf with chartreuse, rugose foliage) x Cherokee Purple. Due to the complicated genetics of Tigerette, many of the resulting filial generations from that cross continue to segregate and recombine in a profusion of fruit shapes, flesh colors, skin stripes, skin tones, dwarf, indeterminate, determinate, and long vine types ... some of which are available and many of which remain unavailable or abandoned altogether.

Last edited by travis; January 14, 2015 at 09:06 PM.
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