chaos fungorum

The kingdom of fungi is so vast and varied—it also includes yeasts, molds, and lichen—that early taxonomists labelled one of its branches "Chaos fungorum." One species eats granite; another grows in Antarctica, an inch or so every five hundred years; yet another thrives in a Chilean desert on a diet of fog. Fungal spores are so lightweight and compact that a single bracket fungus can release thirty billion of them a day. The air we breathe is thick with spores.

Burkhard Bilger, "The Mushroom Hunters." The New Yorker, 8/20/2007.