Mysterious Seeds From China Are Showing up in U.S., Canadian Mailboxes

People have been finding unsolicited seeds in the mail that could potentially threaten the environment, prompting federal agencies to investigate.
Unsolicited seeds in mail
Random, unknown seeds have been popping up in mailboxes across North America. Photo by Ontario Provincial Police (Twitter)

By this point in 2020, people should know that most surprises aren't going to be good.

Anyone finding unsolicited foreign seeds in the mail should report them immediately, according to government warnings. 

The unknown seeds have started popping up in mailboxes in Canada and the U.S., prompting the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to release a statement on Tuesday that instructs people not to plant the seeds.


“Unauthorized seeds could be the seeds of invasive plants, or carry plant pests, which can be harmful when introduced into Canada,” the statement says. “These species can invade agricultural and natural areas, causing serious damage to our plant resources.”

People who find seeds in the mail should keep the entire package, including the mailing label, and contact regional offices of the relevant government agency, where an inspector will give further instructions.

The seeds are likely coming from China or Taiwan, according to a tweet issued by Ontario Provincial Police. “Do not plant of dispose (the seeds),” the OPP said. “Call the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a similar statement on Tuesday.

The USDA said it believes the seeds are coming from China as part of a “brushing scam” where sellers send out unsolicited items, so they can then use the information to post fake customer reviews online to boost sales. 

Neither Canada or the U.S. said what kinds of seeds are being sent out, but the USDA said it’s currently gathering seeds and will test them to determine whether they pose a real threat to agriculture or the environment.

Follow Anya Zoledziowski on Twitter.