The Tomato of the Month for February is a new heirloom tomato that has just become available to the public this year, Cherokee Green. The Cherokee Green tomato was discovered by heirloom tomato expert, Craig LeHoullier. Here is what Craig says about the discovery of the Cherokee Green tomato:
To discuss Cherokee Green, we have to go back to Cherokee Purple. Back in 1990, I received, unrequested, a small pack of seeds in the mail from Mr. J. D. Green of Sevierville, Tennessee. The very brief letter indicated that “knowing you are someone who appreciates good tomatoes, here are a few seeds of a purple tomato given by the Cherokee Indians to my neighbor 100 years ago”.
So I grew it out, it was indeed the first dark fruited (“black”), very nearly purple tomato I’d ever seen. I loved the flavor – so I named it “Cherokee Purple” and sent it to Jeff McCormack of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, hoping he would offer it in his catalog – which he did. I grew several plants of Cherokee Purple each year – it did better in North Carolina than it did in Pennsylvania, to my delight.
In 1995, one of my plants produced what appeared to be a brown colored fruit – the interior color was the same, but the skin was yellow (rather than the clear skinned Cherokee Purple). Not knowing if it was a cross or mutation, I grew it out and also shared it with people and it grew consistently – so I assumed it to be a fortunate mutation, and called it “Cherokee Chocolate”. Well, I shared some seeds with a fellow seed saver – he grew out the Cherokee Chocolate and sent me some saved seeds.
I grew some – and one plant gave me green fleshed fruit with yellow skin – otherwise, plant habit, flavor and fruit size was the same. Again, not knowing if it was a mutation or a cross, I saved seed and grew it out, and again to my delight, it was the amber skinned green flesh! So I assumed again it was a mutation and named it Cherokee Green. Many people find it one of, if not the best, large fruited, green fleshed tomato. This year Johnny’s Selected Seeds is selling the Cherokee Green grown out from my stock seed.
What I like about it is that it has the same sort of disease tolerance that Cherokee Purple and Cherokee Chocolate possess. For me in North Carolina, it resists foliage diseases far better than, say, Aunt Ruby’s German Green or Evergreen. It is extremely vigorous, productive, and produces medium to large oblate fruit with a well balanced but assertive, delicious flavor.
The history of the Cherokee Green tomato is very fascinating, and I would like to give a special thanks to Craig LeHoullier for providing his story on this heirloom tomato. If you would like to know more about Craig, you can visit his website, or read his bio at victoryseeds.com.
Photo courtesy of Johnny’s Selected Seeds
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