Beware of Unsolicited Gifts (Seeds)!

People in several states, including several residents in Kentucky, have received unsolicited small packages of foreign seeds in the mail from China. Potentially these can pose a threat to Kentucky agriculture and the environment through the introduction of invasive plants or disease they may contain.  The purpose of these seed shipments is unclear at this time, but we want to get the message out that people should not plant them; instead they should, hold on to any packaging (including the mailing label), and then contact the appropriate authorities.

Figure 1. Examples of unsolicited seed packets mailed from China.

The seeds are in small sample packets and I have attached a picture as an example of what we have seen thus far.  There appear to be several different types of seeds in different packets.  There are several states that have been receiving seeds, including Tennessee, Ohio, and Virginia.  The USDA is trying to gather as much information as possible.

Commissioner Quarles released a statement Monday morning in the following press release.  We are asking that anyone who receives any seeds to leave the packages unopened. It is important that these unwanted seeds be disposed of properly through USDA APHIS. Simply tossing the seed packets in the trash is not recommended. Please fill out the ForeignSeedForm and contact the USDA APHIS office in Northern Kentucky:

Harold Hempfling
P.O. Box 475
Hebron, KY 41048
Phone: (859) 689-2626

Individuals may also contact the Kentucky Department of Agriculture at (502) 573-0282 or e-mail They may also contact Joe Collins at the Office of the State Entomologist (859-218-3341).


Ric Bessin, Entomology Extension Specialis, and Joe Collins, Deputy State Entomologist


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