Somalia is a home for a great number of endemic plant species which are unique to the local ecological conditions. Some of these species are not found anywhere else in the world. One of the distinctive areas for indigenous plant species is Al-Madow, a dense mountain forest in northern Somalia, extending from several kilometers west of Bossaso to northwest of Erigavo with an altitude of 700 to 800 m above sea level. It peaks at almost 2500 m in Shimbiris, northwest of Erigavo. The mean annual rainfall in Al-Madow is high, ranging from 750 to 850 mm in addition to winter rains, fog and mist. As a result of favorable climatic conditions, the area has richer flora and fauna than many other parts of Somalia, and harbors some of the rarest and most localized animal and plant species.

Studies conducted in 1995 by a team of botanists from Uppsala University in Sweden constitute the most extensive botanical survey ever done in the area.