Beware suspect seeds sent through mail

by Cristin Parker

(July 29, 2020) Cherokee County AgriLife Horticulture Extension Agent Kim Benton and Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller are urging Texans to take extreme precaution when receiving unsolicited seed packets from China.

Officials indicate packets containing unidentified seeds have been mailed to multiple states, including Texas, falsely labeled as jewelry.

Citizens are strongly advised not to plant the seeds as they could contain harmful invasive species or be otherwise unsafe.

If you receive a foreign package containing seeds, especially one from China, do not open it or plant the contents. Keep contents contained in their original sealed package.

“If you get seeds you didn’t order, DO NOT PLANT THEM,” Benton stated in a post on her AgriLife Facebook page. “All incidences should be reported to USDA-APHIS (512) 916-5241. My understanding is their phones are very busy.

“Or email Carol Motloch, USDA-APHIS-PPQ State Operations Coordinator, at Emails should include your contact info -- email and phone number; and a description of package information. A photo of the label and material would help.

“We have had so many problems from insects and plants that were accidentally released, I don’t want to even think about what these packages might be up to, since these are obviously intentional.”

An invasive species is an organism that is not native to a particular region.

The introduction of this “alien species” can cause economic or environmental harm. In agriculture, an invasive species can destroy native crops, introduce disease to native plants and may be dangerous for livestock.

“I am urging folks to take this matter seriously,” Commissioner Miller said. “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.”

Report unsolicited seed packages to