A close relative of the European white (also called silver) birch (B. pendula), this small tree is native to Alaska and elsewhere in the American North-West. It closely resembles the paper birch (B. papyrifera), hence the common name. However, the Alaskan species differs in the way the bark peels off, in narrow strips rather than large sheets. The bark is faintly creamy or reddish white, with grey patterning. The shoots are covered with resin-producing glands, whence the old species name B. resinifera. The leaves are typical of the birches, varying in autumn colour from yellow to red-orange.
In its native habitat the Alaska paper birch grows at the forest edge or on peatlands either as single species forest or together with black spruce (Picea mariana), in Canada also with white spruce (Picea glauca) on drier ground. The trees planted along the road at Mustila’s northern edge have grown well for decades. However, they are so similar to the native Finnish species that few visitors even notice them.