Don’t plant, or throw away, mystery seeds

Don’t plant, or throw away, mystery seeds

Be vigilant about what you plant in the ground, or throw away, as it could have a detrimental impact on our ecosystem.

Recently, people across the country, including Texas, have received seeds in the mail that they did not order.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture is aware of these suspicious, unsolicited packages of seeds are arriving in people’s mailboxes. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection, other federal agencies, and state departments of agriculture to investigate the situation as the packages appear to be coming from China, according to a USDA news release issued July 28, 2020.

USDA officials are urging anyone who receives an unsolicited package of seeds to immediately contact their state plant regulatory official or APHIS State plant health director. The person should hold onto the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label, until someone from the State department of agriculture or APHIS contacts you with further instructions. 


Do not plant seeds from unknown origins.

“At this time, we don’t have any evidence indicating this is something other than a ‘brushing scam’ where people receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost sales,” according to the news release. “USDA is currently collecting seed packages from recipients and will test their contents and determine if they contain anything that could be of concern to U.S. agriculture or the environment.”

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller also is urging Texans to take extreme precautions when receiving unsolicited seed packets from China.

“I am urging folks to take this matter seriously,” Miller said in a news statement July 27. “An invasive plant species might not sound threatening, but these small invaders could destroy Texas agriculture. TDA has been working closely with USDA to analyze these unknown seeds so we can protect Texas residents.”

An invasive species grows, reproduces and spreads rapidly, establishing over large areas, and persists, according to Texas Invasives.

Species that become invasive succeed due to favorable environmental conditions and lack of natural predators, competitors and diseases that normally regulate populations. Invasive species are often spread by humans and treating, controlling and remedying the damage caused by them costs significant money.

“Whether you are a hiker, biker, camper, bird watcher gardener, fisherman, boater, hunter, logger, forester, rancher or farmer, invasive species can have a negative impact on you,” according to Texas Invasives. “For example, species like giant salvinia and zebra mussels can take over lakes and make boating, fishing and general water recreation less than enjoyable.”