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Man plants mystery seeds from China — here’s what happened

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An Arkansas man who received one of the mysterious seed packages sent to thousands of US residents from China planted them on his property — and said the results are wild.

“We … planted the seeds just to see what would happen,’’ Booneville resident Doyle Crenshawn told local CBS-TV affiliate KSFM.

The plant is producing large white fruit from orange flowers that resemble those of a squash.

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“Every two weeks I’d come by and put Miracle-Gro on it, and they just started growing like crazy,’’ Crenshawn said.

The man planted the seeds before US agriculture officials issued a dire warning to recipients not to put them in the ground, the station said.

“Our concern is from an invasive-pest aspect: These seeds could introduce an invasive weed or an invasive insect pest or a plant disease,” Scott Bray of the Arkansas Department of Agriculture told the outlet.

US residents in all 50 states reported getting the bizarre, unsolicited seed packages beginning last month.

The handful of seeds arrive in little sealed clear plastic pouches and are tucked in standard-size light gray or beige envelopes — sometimes labeled as jewelry.

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“The package said it was from China and said ‘studded earrings’ on the outside, and we thought that was a little odd,” Crenshaw acknowledged of his batch.

It is unclear who is behind the packages, but US agriculture officials have said they believe the seeds may be part of a “brushing scam” — in which people receive goods they never ordered and the sender then posts a fake customer review in their name to boost sales.

US agriculture officials are urging recipients to keep the seeds sealed and call them so they can pick them up.

An Arkansas man who received one of the mysterious seed packages sent to thousands of US residents from China planted them on his property — and said the results are wild.

Americans are planting mystery seeds the government has warned against

At least four people who were unaware of government warnings planted seeds that arrived in mail

Packages of unidentified seeds which appear to have been mailed from China to the US. Photograph: WSDA/Reuters

Packages of unidentified seeds which appear to have been mailed from China to the US. Photograph: WSDA/Reuters

Last modified on Mon 3 Aug 2020 18.20 BST

Americans have been planting mystery seeds which appeared to be sent from China, unaware of government warnings to dispose of the suspicious shipments.

Four people who have come forward after apparently randomly receiving the seeds have since contacted their local agricultural departments to collect the resulting mystery plants – or in some cases, fruitless seeds.

Tiffany Lowery, of Kentucky, said she had thought the seeds were sent from her planting club. “I didn’t realize it was a thing until I saw it on the news,” Lowery, who ended up with a bright green-leafed plant, told WBKO news.

Patricia Smith, of Texas, also thought the seeds were a gift from a group she is in. “I planted them in a pot, they never came up, so I didn’t think any more of it,” Smith told KXII news.

Shelley Aucoin, in Louisiana, said she had bought seeds from online retailer Amazon, so she planted the ones she received in the mail.

“Then we saw the post saying don’t plant them,” Aucoin told WAFB news. “I mean, I’m not scared about it, I’m not worried about it, but I guess people are.”

Plants grown from mysterious seeds that arrived in the mail, as seen in an undated photo. Photograph: Usda Aphis/Reuters

“We brought them down here and planted the seeds just to see what would happen, every two weeks I’d come by and put Miracle Grow on it and they just started growing like crazy,” Doyle Crenshaw, of Arkansas, told local news channel 5News.

Crenshaw said he planted the seeds in his garden months ago and they produced large white fruit and orange flowers, resembling a squash plant.

The US Department of Agriculture warned people last month not to plant the seeds and to keep them in their original packaging after more than a dozen states reported receiving the mystery packets in the mail. People who receive the seeds are also instructed to contact their local agricultural office.

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said in a release: “Seeds for planting pose a significant risk for US agriculture and natural resources because they can carry seed-borne viruses or other diseases.”

The agency’s preliminary analysis has shown the seed packets included a mix of ornamental, fruit, vegetable, herb and weed species – as in weeds, not, apparently, “weed”. It also said the agency did not link the seeds to “agro-terrorism”.

So far, the agency said the most likely reason these seeds are being sent around is because of an online scam where sellers try to boost sales by sending unsolicited items to unsuspecting customers, then post false online reviews of the item.

US Customs and Border Protection, which is helping with the USDA investigation, has in recent years intercepted similar seed shipments.

At least four people who were unaware of government warnings planted seeds that arrived in mail ]]>