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Mysterious seeds from China are appearing in American mailboxes— including Oklahoma

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The Agriculture Department is looking into the origins of mysterious packages of seeds with Chinese mailing addresses delivered to recipients who say they never ordered them. (Kansas Department of Agriculture Facebook/TNS)

Thousands of Americans— including Oklahomans —have reportedly received mysterious seeds in the mail from China in the past few days.

Because of this, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has released a statement about the potential dangers that can come from planting these.

"USDA urges anyone who receives an unsolicited package of seeds to immediately contact their State plant regulatory official or APHIS State plant health director," the statement read. "Please hold onto the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label, until someone from your State department of agriculture or APHIS contacts you with further instructions. Do not plant seeds from unknown origins."

Planting seeds from unknown origins could cause a variety of issues. Oklahoma State University extension assistant director Randy Taylor has been working hard to warn people of these potential dangers.

“Unsolicited seeds could be invasive, introduce diseases to local plants or be harmful to livestock,” Taylor said in a report on OSU's website. “This is not just an Oklahoma-level threat.”

The OSU extension team is also helping with the collection and disposal of the seeds. The team is working with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and encourage Oklahomans to do the following if they receive mysterious seeds in the mail:

  • If the package has already been opened, place all contents – seeds, envelopes and packing material – in a zip-lock bag, write your name and city on the bag and then send an email to vance@ag.ok.gov with that information.
  • If the seeds have been planted, they should be dug up and shaken for loose soil before following the previous step.

After the seeds are secured, Oklahomans should dispose of them by mailing the bagged contents in another package to Morgan Vance at the Agriculture Department, 2800 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City, 73105, bring the package to the front desk of that department or bring them to a local OSU extension facility.

The seeds have been reported in all 50 states as of Wednesday. At this time, the USDA is collecting more information regarding the origin of the seeds.

"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," the statement read. "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."