“Planted one pack and ate the oregano”: What Americans are doing with the mystery seeds from China

This summer, American home gardeners, many of whom bought their backyard fruits and flowers online, were bombarded by mysterious seeds from China. The shipments prompted warnings from government officials, who urged people not to plant the seeds, and mail them to USDA or local authorities. According to public records obtained by Motherboard, the scale of the operation is far larger than anyone had suspected: Tens of thousands of Americans were part of the scheme, which is thought to be a “brushing” campaign to juice online ratings. And to make matters worse, few of them seemed to be prepared to handle the shipments. “Hundreds of people had no idea whether they had ever ordered seeds, or how to check,” Jason Koebler reports. “Some people called 911. Others ate the seeds.” Perhaps in response to the fiasco, Amazon has recently banned international plant sales.

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