Mysterious seeds from China show up in East Hampton
The mysterious Chinese seeds have hit the tony enclave of East Hampton.
East Hampton resident Jenny Carmona, a stylist at Amagansett’s LaParlour salon, posted a shot of unsolicited seeds sent from Suzhou, China, on her Facebook page this week noting: “So, no jokes Got this in the mail 2 days ago. I DID NOT order any seeds from China.”
She later updated her post saying, “NY Department of agriculture directed me to seal them In a Ziploc bag and mail it to them. If you get them do the same. All the states are reporting these suspicious specimens according to the department of agriculture.”
Another East Hampton resident and his wife also received the creepy packages.
The seeds first started showing up in the beginning of July in Utah and Virginia but were later found in Texas and across the United States, often marked as jewelry.
The US Department of Agriculture says the puzzling packages appear to be part of a “brushing scam” — where folks receive items they never ordered from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost sales.
The agency is urging residents to report the packages and issued the warning: “Do not plant seeds from unknown origins.”
While some have speculated that the seeds could be part of an evil plot to take over the United States by invasive plants – experts pooh-pooh that theory.
“The photos circulating online suggest the seeds are many different species, often vegetable seeds such as tomato, cucumber, citrus and sunflower. Seeds can, of course, harbor pests and pathogens, and probably some of the species would include known invaders. So in the grand scheme, it seems unlikely the seeds will be invasive plants to devour the US,” said Jason Fridley, an associate professor of biology at Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences.
The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets told The Post Thursday that it has received more than 500 reports of the shipments.
“Our office has received questions from a few New Yorkers who have received unsolicited packages allegedly sent from China that are marked as containing jewelry (or other items) but which actually contain plant seeds,” Commissioner of Agriculture Richard Ball said in a statement Monday.
“Similar packages have been received in other states and the United States Department of Agriculture is investigating.
“People who receive seeds should not plant or handle the seeds,” Ball’s statement said. “They should store them safely in a place children and pets cannot access and email USDA immediately at [email protected] for instructions. Seeds imported into the United States are rigorously tested to ensure quality and prevent introduction of invasive species, insects and diseases. We will continue to monitor this issue and will pass along guidance as it is received from USDA.”
Anyone who receives the unsolicited packages should immediately contact the local plant regulatory officials or the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in their state, the USDA said.
“Please hold onto the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label, until someone from your state department of agriculture or APHIS contacts you with further instructions,” the agency said in a statement.
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