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Don’t Plant The Seeds: What To Do If You Receive Mysterious Seeds from China

Photo: Washington State Department of Agriculture
Photo: Washington State Department of Agriculture

Who would have thought we would hit the “Mysterious Seeds From China” square on our 2020 bingo card? People from more than 27 states have been randomly sent packages of seeds from China.

“The seeds are usually sent in white packages that display Chinese lettering and the words ‘China Post,’” said Jennifer Holton, director of communications, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). “Some recipients are saying they didn’t order anything and the package was labeled as jewelry. We’ve heard anecdotal reports of it being labeled as socks, sunglasses or other inexpensive item.”

These unidentified seeds have created a national investigation. Holton said this may be part of a brushing scam.

“It’s an exploit by a vendor that is used to bolster their product rating and increase online visibility by shipping an inexpensive product to an unwitting receiver and they submit positive reviews on the receiver’s behalf under the guise of being a verified owner,” Holton explained.

MDARD and state ag departments across the country are reporting these seeds come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Holton says they could be invasive species that could have a negative impact on our environment.

“We’re asking people to not throw them away or the packages because if they end up in a landfill, they could sprout,” she said. “We don’t know what they are. We’re asking people to hang on to them so we can start putting together a good tracker and provide that information to USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

Currently MDARD doesn’t have an exact count of how many Michiganders have received these seeds, but there have been multiple reports. If you receive a package of seeds, you can report them to MDARD.


MDARD Customer Service Center: 800-292-3939

MDARD Website: www.michigan.gov/mdard

MDARD Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MIDeptofAgriculture