The Bulletin

Some Virginians are getting mystery seeds in the mail. Officials say don’t plant them.

By: - July 24, 2020 1:11 pm

An agricultural field in King William County in April 2020. (Sarah Vogelsong/Virginia Mercury)

Virginia is the latest state to report residents receiving unsolicited mysterious seeds in packets marked with Chinese writing, according to a release from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Friday. 

VDACS “has been notified that several Virginia residents have received unsolicited packages containing seeds that appear to have originated from China,” the release said. “The types of seeds in the packages are unknown at this time and may be invasive plant species. The packages were sent by mail and may have Chinese writing on them.”

Reports of seed deliveries are still continuing to come in and so a definitive number of cases that have occurred in the commonwealth isn’t currently available, said VDACS Director of Communications Michael Wallace.

Recipients of the seeds are urged to report them to Virginia’s Office of Plant Industry Services

According to Salt Lake City’s Fox 13 channel, Utah residents have also been receiving seeds in the mail that they did not purchase and that arrive in packages with Chinese writing. A similar story was reported by the Daily Mail about UK residents last week

Both the Utah and UK stories said many of the seed packets were labeled as containing ear jewelry.

Seed importation is highly regulated in the U.S. and most countries because of the risks of spreading diseases and pests that could harm or destroy domestic crops or other plants. 

Wallace said the Office of Plant Industry “will be conducting investigations and will be collaborating with the (U.S. Department of Agriculture) to contain and identify the seeds.”

This story has been updated with comments from VDACS.

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Sarah Vogelsong
Sarah Vogelsong

Sarah is Editor-in-Chief of the Mercury and previously its environment and energy reporter. She has worked for multiple Virginia and regional publications, including Chesapeake Bay Journal, The Progress-Index and The Caroline Progress. Her reporting has won awards from groups such as the Society of Environmental Journalists and Virginia Press Association, and she is an alumna of the Columbia Energy Journalism Initiative and Metcalf Institute Science Immersion Workshop for Journalists. She is a graduate of the College of William and Mary. Contact her at [email protected]