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Ohio Department Of Agriculture: Don't Plant Mysterious Seeds

A packet of unsolicited seeds received by an Ohio citizen in the mail.
Ohio Department of Agriculture
A packet of unsolicited seeds received by an Ohio citizen in the mail.

Unsolicited packages of seeds have been showing up on some Ohioans porches.

Late last week, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) started getting reports of citizens receiving packages of seeds in the mail that they never ordered. Authorities think the packages appear to be sent from China, and they are urging anyone who gets one of these packages not to plant anything inside.

The outside of a seed package received by an Ohio citizen.

“The main message we want to drive home to folks is don't plant these seeds, just hold onto them.," says Dan Kenny, the Plant Health Division Chief at the ODA. "We're looking for further guidance from USDA in formulating a plan to hopefully dispose, collect and dispose of these seeds or advise residents of how to do so.”

Kenny says the seeds could be harmful to the environment if they are planted. Ohio is not the only state where this is happening — mysterious packages of seeds have also been reported recently in Maryland and Kentucky and some other states. Some reports suggest the seeds may be a part of a brushing technique, where an e-commerce seller boosts its ratings by creating fake orders.

Environmental reporter Chris Welter is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.