Idaho Ag. Department cautions against unsolicited seed packages from China

By Reader Staff

Since late July, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been investigating reports of people around the country receiving suspicious packets apparently mailed from China and containing seeds. According to The New York Times, the unsolicited packets appear to contain a “mix of ornamental, fruit and vegetable, herb and weed species,” including cabbage, hibiscus, lavender, mint, morning glory, mustard, rose, rosemary and sage.

Quoting from an expert at Penn State University, The Times reported that the risks are low for “some nefarious outcome” from the seeds — apparently sent as a type of scam to drum up sales — yet, if they are planted it could result in the spread of invasive species or plant diseases.

Now, the Idaho State Department of Agriculture is sharing information for Idahoans who have received the unsolicited packages of seeds. 

According to a July 27 news release, ISDA has received approximately 20 calls or emails reporting the packets being sent to Idahoans. Several states are reporting similar occurrences, according to the agency. The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has been tracking such instances at the federal level. 

Idahoans who have received unsolicited packages of seeds are asked to take these steps: 

• Do not plant the seeds; 

• Do not open the seed packages; 

• Contact the Idaho office of USDA APHIS at 208-373-1600; 

• Keep the label and seed package; 

• Wait for further instructions from USDA about disposal and follow-up. 

For more info, visit the USDA APHIS website at

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