Mysterious unsolicited seed packets from China received by Hawaii residents

Photos of the package and seeds intercepted on the mainland.
Photos of the package and seeds intercepted on the mainland.(Washington State Department of Agriculture and Kentucky Department of Agriculture)
Updated: Jul. 28, 2020 at 5:27 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - If you get an unsolicited packet of seeds from China, don’t open it. That’s the message from agriculture officials after multiple people received the mysterious packages.

The State Department of Agriculture says they are working with federal agencies after numerous people across the country got the seeds in the mail. Five reports have come from Hawaii residents — three on Oahu, two on Hawaii Island.

Authorities aren’t exactly sure of the contents of the packages, but most of the unsolicited shipments have come from China.

“We don’t know what they are. They could be detrimental, they could be poisonous, they could be invasive,” Acting Plant Quarantine Branch Manager Jonathan Ho said.

“At this time, federal authorities do not have any evidence of nefarious activity connected to the seed packets but are testing the contents to determine if they contain anything that could be of concern to U.S. agriculture or the environment,” agriculture officials added.

If you get one, you’re urged to report it to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) office. Contact information is listed below:

  • Oahu – (808) 834-3240
  • Maui, Molokai, Lanai – (808) 877-5261
  • Kona – (808) 326-1252
  • Hilo – (808) 933-9040
  • Kauai – (808) 632-2505

HDOA Plant Quarantine Offices can also be reached at:

  • Oahu – (808) 832-0566 or (808) 837-8413
  • Maui, Molokai, Lanai – (808) 872-3848
  • Kona – (808) 326-1077
  • Hilo – (808) 961-9393
  • Kauai – (808) 241-7135

The State’s toll-free pest hotline will also take the report at 643-PEST (7378).

Recipients are advised not to open, throw away, or plant any of the seeds to help ensure that new invasive species are not introduced into the state.

Local authorities are working to obtain the shipments from the individuals who received them in the islands for further inspection.

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