USDA Bad Seed China
This package of seeds sent to a U.S. resident has been identified as Solanum lycopersicum—tomato seeds – by the U.S Department of Agriculture. Unsolicited seeds have been arriving in mailboxes around the nation, prompting investigation. USDA photo

Dear Friends and Neighbors in Maricopa,

There have been very recent news reports of mysterious packs of seeds, apparently originating from China, mailed to folks all over the country including some in Arizona. These seed packs sometimes arrive in white envelopes with Chinese characters and sometimes in plain manila envelopes.

Rita Bricker Maricopa
Rita Bricker

The key questions concerning these curious and unsolicited arrivals are: What kind of plants produced the seeds? And, perhaps more importantly, what was the motive in sending them? Both questions remain unanswered at this time.
However, if you receive such a package, it is of utmost importance that you DO NOT OPEN THE SEED PACK and DO NOT DISCARD OR DESTROY IT. The seeds may be from invasive or noxious plants and the packets need to remain sealed to prevent their unwanted or inadvertent spread.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is working with state and local agencies to track and bring in undesirable and prohibited seeds. If you are in receipt of unsolicited seeds, please keep the packet unopened and intact and deliver it to the Arizona Department of Agriculture, Attention Plant Services Division:

Phoenix Operation: 1688 W. Adams St., Phoenix, AZ 85007. Phone: 602-542-0992. Fax: 602-542-1004.
Tucson Operation: 400 W. Congress, Suite 124, Tucson, AZ 85701. Phone: 520-628-6314. Fax: 520-628-6961.
Yuma Operation: 1931 S. Arizona Ave., Suite 4, Yuma, AZ 85364. Phone: 928-341-1758.

Rita Bricker
Pinal County Master Gardener