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Caution Urged After Mystery Seed Mailings

South Carolina Department of Agriculture
Hugh E. Weathers, Commissioner

Media Contact: Eva Moore, 803-734-2196, emoore@scda.sc.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – July 27, 2020

Caution Urged After Mystery Seed Mailings

COLUMBIA – State agriculture officials are warning South Carolinians to be wary of unsolicited packages of seeds mailed to them.

The South Carolina Department of Agriculture and Clemson University’s Regulatory Services division are working together to investigate after residents reported receiving packages they did not order.

Similar reports have been made to agriculture officials across the country. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is collecting reports and coordinating a national investigation.

If you receive an unsolicited package containing seeds:

  • Do not open the seed packets or handle the seeds.
  • Do not plant unidentified seeds. They may be invasive species that could displace or destroy native plants and insects.
  • Retain the seeds and packaging and put them in a zip-top bag.
  • Contact Clemson University’s Department of Plant Industry at 864-646-2140 or invasives@clemson.edu, or submit a report online by clicking here [Updated].

We anticipate more guidance from USDA on this subject soon.

“Whatever the reason for these mailings, it’s important to use caution when it comes to unidentified seeds,” said South Carolina Department of Agriculture Assistant Commissioner Derek Underwood, who oversees the agency’s Consumer Protection Division.

“If these seeds should bear invasive species, they may be a threat to our environment and agriculture,” said Steve Cole, director of Clemson’s Regulatory Services unit. “We don’t want unknown species planted or thrown out where they may wind up sprouting in a landfill.”

Answers to further questions may obtained from the South Carolina Department of Agriculture’s Seed Lab at 803-737-9717 or seedlab@scda.sc.gov, Clemson University’s Department of Plant Industry (invasives@clemson.edu;) or a local Clemson Extension Office.

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