The well known steady free convection forward boundary layer (FBL) flows ascending over a heated upwards projecting semi-infinite flat plate embedded in a fluid saturated porous medium are compared in this paper to their less well known backward (BBL) counterparts descending over a cooled (also upwards projecting!) semi-infinite flat plate. The circumstance that the definite edge of the plate (x = 0) in the former case is a leading edge and in the latter one a trailing edge, leads to substantially different mathematical and physical features of the FBL and BBL flows, respectively. The paper considers under this aspect the case of similar flows corresponding to surface temperature distributions which are power-law functions of the distance x from the definite edge. For permeable plates the effect of an adequate lateral suction and injection of the fluid is also taken into account. The detailed investigation, however, is restricted to the particular values m = +1 and m = −1/3 of the power-law exponent m, where both FBL and BBL solutions are available in exact analytic form. For each of these values, both exponentially and algebraically decaying BBL solutions were found. In addition, the existence of an exact algebraic BBL solution valid for any value of m is reported.