Mystery Seeds from China A Concern for USDA

Mystery Seeds from China A Concern for USDA

China syndromeMystery Seeds from China A Concern for USDA


Published 3 August 2020

During the last few weeks, dozens of people in twenty-two states have been receiving mysterious packages of seeds from China in their mail. The purpose of the mystery packages is not clear, but USDA urges recipients of the seed packages to hold onto the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label, until someone from their states’ department of agriculture or USDA APHIS contacts them with further instructions. The mystery seeds should not be planted, or mixed with legitimate seeds.



During the last few weeks, people across the United States have been receiving mysterious packages of seeds from China in their mail. One recipient of mystery seeds received a package which seemed like a surprise gift of earrings, but instead found that the package contained unidentified seeds within.


Thus far, the packages have been received by dozens of individuals in Minnesota, Utah, Louisiana, Virginia, Washington State, and seventeen other states.


The purpose of these mystery seed packages is not yet apparent, but experts suspect that it is a brushing scam. Pandora Report notes that a brushing scam involves a foreign, third-party seller mailing unsolicited items to an individual, and then writing a fake glowing review of their own product online. The review is considered a “verified purchase” because the item was delivered via the mail. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a warning regarding these shifty seeds:


USDA said it had identified fourteen types of plants from the unsolicited packages of seeds, revealing a “mix of ornamental, fruit and vegetable, herb and weed species.”


Among the plant species botanists have identified so far: cabbage, hibiscus, lavender, mint, morning glory, mustard, rose, rosemary and sage, according to the USDA APHIS.


USDA urges anyone who receives an unsolicited package of seeds to immediately contact their State plant regulatory official or APHIS State plant health director. USDA is urging recipients of the seed packages to hold onto the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label, until someone from their states’ department of agriculture or APHIS contacts them with further instructions.


USDA stresses that under no circumstances should seeds from unknown origins be planted, or mixed with legitimate seeds.

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