The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has identified some of the mysterious unsolicited packages of seeds apparently sent from China to homes across the U.S.
Osama El-Lissy, the deputy administrator of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said last week that the department confirmed at least 14 of the seeds in a recording published on its website.
The identified seeds are for mustard, cabbage, morning glories, roses, hibiscus, and herbs such as mint, sage, rosemary and lavender.
“This is just a subset of the samples we’ve collected so far,” El-Lissy said.
The identification of the seeds comes after residents in all 50 states reported receiving unsolicited packages of seeds with Chinese writing on them.
The USDA had advised those who receive seeds not to plant them and to communicate with the appropriate state plant regulatory official.
Officials in states such as Virginia had previously cautioned the seeds could be for invasive plant species. Even though the identified seeds are for harmless species, plants from around the world could still harm native plants, experts told CBS News.
The seeds have shown up in white packages with the words “China Post.”
The USDA has suggested the seed campaign could be part of a “brushing scam” where people receive items they didn’t order and the seller posts fake customer reviews to encourage sales.
"Brushing scams involving seed packets in international mail shipments are not uncommon," the USDA said in a release. "U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has intercepted similar seed shipments in recent years."