Don’t Plant Unidentified Seeds – Mystery Seeds Arriving Through the Mail

Over the last several days, residents have been receiving packages of unidentified seeds that they did not order. They arrive from China labeled as jewelry or other items.  The USDA is investigating and is asking everyone for help tracking packages. It’s also important that you don’t plant unidentified seeds, no matter what the source.

Do This if You Get This Package

If you receive one of these packages, or knows of someone who does, please do the following:

  1. Do not open or plant the contents. Keep contents contained in their original sealed package.
  2. Report it via email to: Carol Motloch USDA-APHIS-PPQ State Operations Coordinator, carol.m.motloch@usda.gov
  3. Your email should include your email and phone number, a description of the package contents, and label, and photos of the contents, package, and label if you can.
  4. Put the seed and packing materials in a ziploc bag to safeguard the items. You will be contacted by USDA and given further instructions about collection.

More Information

The reason the packages are sent and how they are getting names and addresses is unknown. The real concern with unidentified seeds is that they may be invasive. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller issued a warning on the unsolicited seeds July 27.  Dr. Kevin Ong, the Texas Plant Disease Diagnostic Laboratory Director for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service has also posted information via YouTube on the matter. Dr. Ong’s video has photos of the packaging so that you can see what they may look like.

Best Practice for Handling Unidentified Seed – Don’t Plant It!

No matter what the source, don’t plant unidentified seeds because you don’t know if they are invasive or not. An “invasive species” is a non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health. The term can apply to plants, insects or animals. You can read more on which species are considered invasive for Texas at TexasInvasives.org. You can get help identifying mystery plants by contacting the Master Gardener Help Desk or Ask the Agents.

More Resources

Visit the Travis County Horticulture page and help with vegetable gardening, ornamental plants, pests, and more.

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