In ADOM, some dungeon levels have herb bushes growing in patterns that occasionally change. These patterns obey the rules of the game of life, except that herbs are constrained to grow only on open floor spaces, and sometimes herb bushes can be destroyed between generations but other game activity. It is also possible to plant new herb bushes, but so difficult that most players never manage to do so.

In addition, there are several types of herb bushes; the type of bush is determined solely by the location, similar to the types of traps, but the herb type map is simpler; each horizontal row on the screen produces one type of herb bush; the types cycle in a sequence down the screen. Each type of bush produces two different but related types of herbs, one considered good and one considered bad.

Players with better Herbalism skill will tend to pick more of the good types of herbs and more uncursed and blessed ones, and successfully identifying the herb bush with the Herbalism skill also helps in this manner. Players without any Herbalism skill will always pick cursed herbs, though it is still possible for them to pick some of the good types of herbs.

There's some skill in farming herbs in order to maintain long-lasting bushes:

  • Use herbalism to identify bushes. You can always pick from a strong bush or one that is full of blossoms without destroying it; at worst you'll degrade it one level. Picking from a withered bush may destroy it.
  • Learn to analyze the behavior of the life patterns and selectively prune out bushes by picking them to death in order to establish stable or oscillatory shapes.
  • The 2x2 square block is the most stable isolated shape, since overpicking one bush accidentally does not kill the whole formation, but since it only occupies 2 rows, you get only 4 different types of herbs. Other formations may be more prone to destruction but provide a wider variety of herbs.
  • Each time a generation occurs, surviving bushes which are adjacent to exactly 3 other bushes grow stronger, up to a maximum of full of blossoms. This is another good reason to farm in square blocks; they regenerate well. However, the time between generations is long enough that you'll have to do a bit of other stuff (or have a lot of blocks to farm) once you've got a bush down to withered, before it gets a chance to grow back.
  • Beware of the elements! Fire is especially harmful to herb bushes.