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    What to do if you receive a packet like this in the mail

The latest on the Chinese seed scam

14 varieties identified, all may be harmful



The SC Department of Agriculture and Clemson University are investigating unsolicited seed packages.

The USDA said the seeds may be part of a "brushing" scam.

The unsolicited seed packets began showing up in some SC mailboxes last week.

14 species have been identified in a subset of samples.

They include mustard, cabbage, morning glory, and some herbs such as mint, sage, rosemary, lavender, and hibiscus.

The seeds shipped from China may contain harmful pests and diseases.

They could also be part of a common scam.

“We do not have any evidence indicating that this is something other than a so-called brushing scam, where people receive unsolicited items from a seller, who then posts false customer reviews to boost their sales,” El-Lissy said.

Steve Cole of Clemson's Regulatory Services said, “We don't want unknown species planted or thrown out where they may wind up sprouting in a landfill.”

Officials advise you not to open the packet or handle the seeds.

Put the seeds, their packaging and mailing labels in a zip-top bag and contact the USDA agency handling the investigation by email at or by phone at 800-877-3835.

Additional questions can be directed to the S.C. Department of Agriculture’s Seed Lab at 803-737-9717 or University’s Department of Plant Industry at, or a local Clemson Extension office.



Mailing Address:
     PO Box 9 Lexington
     SC 29071
Street Address:
     131 Swartz Rd.
     Lexington SC 29072
Phone: 803-359-7633
Fax: 803-359-2936