Tree installed at Father Marquette Park

Hickory planted for Arbor Day

City of Marquette arborist Paul Albert, in the red shirt, supervises the planting of a shagbark hickory Friday at Father Marquette Park. The tree planting took place during the city’s annual Arbor Day celebration. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

MARQUETTE — The shagbark hickory is an interesting tree.

According to Michigan State University Extension, when the tree is mature, long, narrow strips of bark on the trunk begin to detach and bend outwards, hence the name.

Also, the leaflets on hickories are much larger near the top of the leaf.

And don’t try to harvest shagbark hickory nuts off the tree; they ripen only after they have fallen to the ground.

It might be awhile before the newly planted hickory tree at Father Marquette Park takes on these characteristics, but it appeared it was off to a good start during Friday’s Arbor Day celebration.

The city of Marquette, which has been a Tree City USA every year since 1981, hosted its 38th annual Arbor Day planting at Father Marquette Park, located at North Front Street near Baraga Avenue.

Barb Kelly, vice president of the Marquette Beautification & Restoration Committee Inc., which is celebrating its 40th birthday, said that to qualify as a Tree City USA, a community must meet four standards: a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 million per capita, and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

Kelly said that Arbor Day celebrations normally take place on the last Friday in April.

The Upper Peninsula’s cold climate makes that difficult.

“We can’t celebrate it then because sometimes we have snow, so we always celebrate ours in May,” Kelly said.

MBRC President Jill LaMere said that when she moved to the area, the formerly more industrialized Founders Landing area was what she called a “dump.”

That’s when the MBRC took action, saying, “We need more green trees to take out some of this cement throughout the city,” LaMere said.

To help beautify Marquette, the committee asked for a full-time arborist to get more trees into the landscape.

“It’s healthy, of course, but it adds to the beauty and it happens all by itself once you get it started,” LaMere said.

City of Marquette arborist Paul Albert orchestrated Friday’s planting of the shagbark hickory.

“It’s native to Michigan but not the U.P., but I’m not native to the U.P. either, so it’s OK,” Albert said before the ceremony. “That’s always been my argument.”

Albert might have been joking when talking about the tree’s heritage, but he took on a serious tone during his short speech during the celebration, thanking the MBRC for helping to organize the event.

He also mentioned the American Transmission Co. provided a $250 grant for the tree planting.

“Without their funding, it wouldn’t have been as easy to get it done,” Albert said.

However, the tree’s planting still had to be completed, so he had help from MBRC members and members of the community who put shovels of dirt into the hole prepared for the tree, which already was placed in the ground.

The shagbark hickory was the first tree planted in the newly renovated Father Marquette Park, which will be dedicated at 2 p.m. July 15, followed by a community-wide celebration at 3 p.m. that day on the boardwalk below the Hampton Inn.

Arbor Day is an annual observance that celebrates the role of trees in people’s lives and promotes tree planting and care. For more information, visit

For more details on the MBRC, visit

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is