A deciduous small tree or large shrub from north-eastern United States, and amongst the most desireable of all flowering garden trees.
Young plants have quite a narrow and upright habit but with maturity comes middle-age spread, with well established plants being no more that 50% higher than they are wide. Given that, plant Cornus florida 'Cherokee Chief' where there will be sufficient space for the tree to fill out to its full potential - you will be well rewarded and will avoid having to move an established plant, a fraught process at best, or worse still, taking an axe to it!
Leaves are quite narrow, about 75mm up to 150mm long, light-green, pointed at the tip and turning to viivid red to purple in the autumn.
Flowering is the crowning glory of Cornus florida 'Cherokee Chief', In early summer large and distinctive rich pink bracts, which fade to white at the base, surround the tiny clusters of flower in a display that just gets better and better with each passing year. Within no more than perhaps five years a plant may well be producing hundreds of blooms in a display that is the equal of any other flowering tree.
Cornus florida 'Cherokee Chief' also produces a fine display of shiny reds fruit in the autumn. These are bitter-tasting and should not be considered edible. However, the birds take a different view and will flock to feed. Incidentally it quite possible to grow Cornus floridas from seed if you are looking to propagate this plant, just make sure the seed is well chilled or left out over winter which will break dormancy.
We do not recommended planting Cornus florida 'Cherokee Chief' on chalky soil as it much prefers soils that are neutral or acid. Improve the soil before planting with well-rotted garden compost, and, if you are really keen, mulch with manure in the winter .
Grow in moderately moist but well-drained soils, rich in organic matter in full sun to part shade. A good winter mulch which will help keep roots cool and moist in summer. 'Cherokee Chief' is said to be notably drought resistant, but that should not be taken to mean that it positively thrives in dry condition. We have a specimen growing in the nursery garden and it does indeed seems to cope well with all but the most prolonged droughts which can leave it looking a bit droopy after a long hot day - much like all nursery-folk under those circumstances. Generally speaking avoid pruning. Eventual height: up to 6-8m.