Paul Robeson Tomato Vs Cherokee Purple

Paul Robeson Tomato Vs Cherokee Purple

Paul Robeson and Cherokee Purple tomatoes are Black Heirloom varieties. Both are great varieties that you can grow alternatively in different growing seasons or co-currently in the same season. Hence, you need to know how they compare to decide if you’ll give them a trial.

So, Paul Robeson tomato Vs Cherokee Purple, what are their noticeable differences?

The main difference between Paul Robeson and Cherokee Purple tomatoes is the flavor. Paul Robeson is sweeter. It’s a smooth crimson red tomato with a smoky and tangy taste. It’s also juicy and balances acidity and sweetness. Cherokee Purple is a dark red tomato and is less sweet and smoky.

This article provides a comprehensive comparison of these two tomato varieties to help you make an informed decision. Let’s get started.

Also Check: Carbon Tomato Vs. Cheroke Purple

Paul Robeson Tomato Vs Cherokee Purple: Detailed Comparison

The fact that both are Black Heirloom varieties means that they may be having tons of similarities. However, Paul Robeson and Cherokee Purple tomatoes have some differences too. Here, we look at the two aspects to help you decide which variety you’ll have for the next season.

Major characteristics of Carbon tomato vs. Cherokee Purple:

Carbon tomatoCherokee Purple
Planting zoneUSDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 11USDA Hardiness Zones 5a-8b
Plant typeAnnual plantAnnual plant
Plant height5 – 7 feet4 – 6 feet
Tomato typeIndeterminate Indeterminate 
Tomato size2 – 4 inches diameter3 – 5 inches diameter
Planting depth¼ inch deep½ inch deep
Spacing 24 – 36 inches18 – 36 inches
Maturity period80 – 95 days75- 90 days
Soil typeWell-drained, rich, and looseWell-drained, rich, and loose
Soil PH6.0 – 6.86.0 – 6.8
Watering 1 inch per week1 inch per week
Sunlight Full sun (6 – 10 hours) dailyFull sun (6 – 8 hours) daily
Fertilizing Yes Yes 
Pollination open-pollinatedopen-pollinated
Pruning/pinching Yes Yes 
Uses Raw or cookedRaw or cooked
Preservation Canning/freezing/dryingCanning/freezing/drying
Nutrition contentVitamins and mineralsVitamins and minerals

The above characteristics can be classified as differences and similarities of Paul Robeson and Cherokee Purple tomatoes.

Paul Robeson Tomato Vs Cherokee Purple: What Makes Them Different?

Besides the variance in sweetness, Paul Robeson and Cherokee Purple tomatoes differ in other areas including the following.

  • Origin
  • Skin thickness
  • Color
  • Flavor

Read on as we explore these varieties.


The two tomato varieties come from different geographical regions.

Paul Robeson tomato originates from Siberia, Russia. It was named after an American celebrity Paul Robeson. He was a human rights activist, singer athlete, and actor. This tomato was given his name to honor him for his devotion to his work. Marina Danilenko is the private seed seller who introduced Paul Robeson tomato in the US.

On the other hand, the Cherokee Purple tomato traces its roots in Sevierville, Tennessee, USA. John Green got the tomato seeds from a neighbor who had acquired them from tomato-growers of over 100 years. These farmers got their seeds from Cherokee Indians.

John Green shipped a packet of the Cherokee seeds to prolific seed-saver and tomato connoisseur, Craig Lahoullier, in 1990. He also included an explanatory note to the recipient. Craig Lahoullier named the tomato variety ‘Cherokee Purple’ as a result of John Green’s story in the note. The purple part of the name is drawn from its dark red color, which’s close to purple.

Craig Lahoullier planted the seed and he liked the tomatoes too much that he shared the seed with seed companies that commercialized Cherokee Purple seed’s in the US.

Skin Thickness

Paul Robeson and Cherokee Purple tomatoes vary in skin thickness.

The Paul Robeson tomatoes are thin-skinned, and as a result, they easily burst if there is a heavy downpour. Hence, you should plant them in a sheltered location like a greenhouse. For ideal results, plant them in early May. If you would like to plant them outdoors, let them be under a shelter to protect them from cracking.

On the contrary, Cherokee Purple tomatoes are thick-skinned. Nonetheless, they aren’t thick enough to withstand heavy rains. They burst and rot, if exposed to excess rain and moisture. Hence, you need to make proper arrangements to have a sheltered planting area.


You can distinguish Paul Robeson and Cherokee Purple tomatoes with their color difference.

Paul Robeson’s variety’s exterior is dusky, brick-red with olive to dark green shoulders. Its flesh is skin-red when fully ripe.

The Cherokee purple tomato has a deep dusky rose/pinkish-red skin color with a green brownish top area. Its flesh is rich-red/red-purple in color.


Although both varieties have a sweet, smoky, and tangy taste, they differ to some tastable extent.

Paul Robeson has richly sweet and smoky with some bits of tanginess. It’s juicy and has a perfect balance between sweetness and acidity.

On the other hand, the Cherokee Purple variety is less sweet and less smoky. It isn’t as juicy as Paul Robeson one, but refreshingly acidic, with an earthy, lingering flavor.

Paul Robeson Tomato Vs Cherokee Purple: Similarities

Since Paul Robeson and Cherokee Purple tomatoes come from the same family, they’ve several similarities including the following.

  • Use: You can enjoy both varieties in raw and cooked form. Slice them for salads and sandwiches or use them to prepare various delicacies. They’re good for making sauces, on pizza or on pasta. Whichever way you consume them, they’re very tasty and satisfying.
  • Type: Both varieties are indeterminate heirloom tomatoes. They grow continuously until winter comes and makes them dormant. Paul Robeson grows between 4 – 8 feet tall, while the Cherokee Purple tomato plant’s height lies anywhere between 4 and 6 feet. As they continue growing, they produce more fruits.
  • Size: Paul Robeson and Cherokee Purple tomatoes are almost the same sizes. While the former has a diameter range of 3 to 4 inches, the latter’s diameter range from 3 to 5 inches. Hence, you’ve to be extremely keen to differentiate them based on sizes.
  • Shape: The two varieties are beefsteak tomatoes. They’re large and have very small seeds. Moreover, they’ve more flesh/meat than seeds and juice. Thus, they’re described as ‘beefsteak’ because you can slice them easily like a piece of meat (beef steak).
  • Spacing: Like other tomato varieties, our focus tomatoes require appropriate spacing. The Paul Robeson variety needs 24 to 36 inches spacing, while 12 to 36 inches spacing is ideal for the Cherokee Purple variety. That gives your tomatoes sufficient air circulation and enough spreading space.
  • Staking: Since the Paul Robeson and Cherokee Purple tomatoes are indeterminate varieties, staking is necessary. Staking provides extra support to the continuously growing plants, preventing the bending that can cause the plant’s breakage. Alternatively, you can tie your tomato plants to a trellis.
  • Nutrition content: Paul Robeson and Cherokee tomatoes are very nutritious. They’re loaded with vitamins and minerals that are essential to your health. These vitals include vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, folate, and lycopene.
  • Canning: You can preserve your Paul Robeson and Cherokee Purple tomatoes effectively by canning, drying, or freezing. While you can freeze your blanched and peeled tomatoes for up to 3 months, canned ones can last even longer.
  • Maturity period: Both varieties take approximately 2.5 to 3 months from transplanting to maturity time. Paul Robeson matures after about 75 days, while Cherokee Purple tomatoes growing period range between 80 and 90 days.
  • Soil type: Like many other tomato varieties, the two types of tomatoes thrive well in well-drained soil, with adequate nutrients. The soil should be moist but not soggy. Also, it shouldn’t have a high nitrogen level as it leads to bushy, less fruity plants.


What’s The Tastiest Tomato Variety?

The tastiest tomato is the Brandywine. It has an excellent sweetness and acidity balance, in addition to the awesome natural taste of tomatoes. The growing conditions can also influence the taste of tomatoes in this category.

How Many Tomatoes Will A Cherokee Purple Produce?

Cherokee Purple produces about twenty tomatoes in each growing season. Having come from heirloom types of tomatoes, it doesn’t yield much. Why? They’re non-hybrid and thus, they’re prone to pests and diseases. As a result, they easily get damaged and you only get a third of the produce.

How Tell If Paul Robeson Tomato Is Ripe?

You tell a Paul Robeson tomato is ripe when it gets its full color. Don’t wait for your tomatoes to be soft. Even if it feels hard, they’re ready as long as the color is complete. Usually, your tomatoes take 6-8 weeks to ripen after the fruit set.

Do You Prune Cherokee Purple Tomatoes?

You should prune your Cherokee Tomatoes. You need to prune your tomatoes to 1 or 2 healthy stems. Get rid of all suckers once they attain a length of 2 to 4 inches. Stake the stems by coiling them around the stake for proper support. Use a soft string, cloth, or twine to tie the stems to the stake.


There’s a very thin line when it comes to Paul Robeson tomato Vs Cherokee Purple because both are Black Heirloom varieties. Hence, they have many similarities from soil type to the size, shape, growing period, plant care, and preservation method, just to mention but a few.

However, these tomato varieties differ in flavor, which is their major difference. Paul Robeson is sweeter than Cherokee Purple tomatoes and balances this sweetness with acidity to give a more tangy flavor. Additionally, both have different backgrounds, skin thickness, and colors.

Even so, both are good when eaten raw or cooked and very nutritious to your body.