The U.S. Department of Agriculture have identified some of the seeds which were sent unsolicited from China to hundreds of Americans.
The mystery packets of seeds have been received by Americans in all 50 states, with authorities suggesting the unsolicited packages were part of a scam.
Officials have warned Americans not to plant the seeds, amid fears that some may be invasive species that could destroy native plants and insects.
Osama El-Lissy, with the plant protection program of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said they had identified more than a dozen plant species among the samples they had tested so far.
‘We have identified 14 different species of seeds, including mustard, cabbage, morning glory and some herbs, like mint, sage, rosemary, lavender, and then other seeds like hibiscus and roses’, he said
‘This is just a subset of the samples we’ve collected so far.’
The USDA has asked all recipients to report the seed packages, and not to plant them.
This week the USDA announced that the unsolicited packages of seeds ‘appear to be coming from China.’
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is working with Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection, among other agencies, to investigate the seeds and the situation.
‘At this time, 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 department added in the release.
‘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.’
Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for the foreign ministry in China, said during a Tuesday briefing that the address labels seen on the packages were forged.
He also said that the China Post had been in talks with USPS to have the packages sent to China for investigation, CNN reports.
In a statement, USPS said that it was aware of the mailings and was in conversation with federal, state and local partners as to next steps.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is also reporting that Canadians have been getting similar packages.
Hundreds of British gardeners also reported getting seed deliveries marked as ‘ear studs’ from China and Malaysia.
In some of the instances, the packages had Chinese writing printed on the labels and are mislabeled as jewelry.
Photos shared to Facebook showed that one resident received two packages of seeds that were labeled as a ‘bracelet’ and a ‘ring.’
The address showed the packages were sent from the city of Suzhou in the Jiangsu providence of East China.
It’s unclear why the seed packages were sent and why each individual who got a delivery was chosen.