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Spontaneous Seed Deliveries Unlikely Harmful
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investigating reports of unsolicited packages of seeds arriving at U.S. residents’ doorsteps via the mail. Officials urge recipients not to plant them, but to contact their state plant regulatory officials instead.
Jason Fridley is an associate professor of biology at Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences whose research areas include plant ecology and invasive species. He doesn’t advocate for recipients to plant the unknown seeds but says it’s unlikely the seeds will be invasive plants that are extremely harmful.
“The photos circulating online suggest the seeds are many different species, often vegetable seeds such as tomato, cucumber, citrus and sunflower.
“The objective of these mailed seeds is still unclear. Seeds can, of course, harbor pests and pathogens, and probably some of the species would include known invaders. But people in the U.S. already grow hundreds of species of potential invaders, very few of which are actually regulated.
“So in the grand scheme, it seems unlikely the seeds will be invasive plants to devour the U.S.”
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