Citizens have contacted the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) indicating they’ve received seeds in the mail that they did not order. The seeds appear to have been shipped from China, and in some cases, the envelopes are labeled jewelry or beads.
“While we have no reason at this time to suspect that these seeds were sent with ill intention, we want to take every precaution to be sure an invasive or otherwise threatening plant species doesn’t take hold here,” Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said.
Imported plant materials go through rigorous testing and inspection to ensure they are not carrying any plant disease or pests and do not pose any threat to health and environment. So far, no evidence has been found to indicate these unsolicited seeds have gone through appropriate inspection, or if they are even the type of seed they are labeled to be.
If citizens receive seeds they did not order, they should not handle or plant the seeds. Instead, seal the bag of seeds into two plastic bags and send all packaging to TDA. If the seeds have already been planted, TDA recommends digging up the seeds or sprouted plants. They should be double-bagged and placed in the trash. It is not advisable to compost the seeds or sprouted plants.
Our partners at USDA believe the seeds may be a “brushing scam” where people receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost sales.
Persons can send unsolicited seed packages to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, attention Plant Certification. The original envelope as well as any paperwork or enclosures and the bag of seeds should be included along with the recipient’s name, contact information and full address.
Mail to P.O. Box 40627, Nashville, TN 37204, or send via UPS or FedEx to 436 Hogan Road, Nashville, TN 37220
If a person prefers not to send in their seeds, notify TDA that the unsolicited seeds were received. Call Plant Certification at 615-837-5137 or email Plant Certification Administrator Anni Self at email@example.com. Provide your name, contact information, and where you live, as well as what you received and any photos. Seeds should be double-bagged and sealed, and placed in the trash for disposal.
TDA continues to monitor this situation and are working closely with our federal partners and partners in other states. We will provide the latest information on our social media channels. Follow @TNAgriculture on Facebook and Twitter for updates.