An Arkansas man, who planted the unsolicited mystery seeds from China that he received before the US Department of Agriculture issued its warning, will have his plant destroyed, as it is "prepared for incineration", according to Arkansas Department of Agriculture, cited by Fox News.
The suspicious plant grew white fruits and orange blossoms, with agriculture experts concluding that it is native to south and southeast Asia.
“Department staff performed an unofficial identification of the plants and determined that it was Benincasa hispida – common name: Wax Gourd, Winter Melon, Chinese Watermelon. Out of an abundance of caution the plant material was incinerated,” Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Public Information Manager Anna Thrash wrote in an email to Fox News. “After further discussion with our USDA partners we will be transferring plant material collected in the future to them for official identification".
The Arkansas plant will reportedly not be the only one incinerated, as over 9,000 Americans recently reported receiving mailings from China and other Asian countries that contained mysterious seeds.
The USDA warned Americans that seeds "of unknown origin" should not be planted, urging everyone who received the seeds to report it.
“The seeds APHIS has identified so far are not uniform or of any particular type. They include a mixture of ornamental, fruit and vegetable, herb, and weed seeds,” a spokesperson for the USDA wrote to Fox News. “Some of the species identified include cabbage, broccoli, kale, celery, coriander, cilantro, sunflower, Ivyleaf Morning-Glory, Lavender, Basil, Rose, and Garden Tomato.”
The USDA has collected over a thousand packages of seeds to date, following reports from Americans.
#News Update: As of Aug. 11, #APHIS has received 9,300+ emails and answered ~600 calls from citizens reporting unsolicited seed packages or seeking related information. To date, we have collected 1,333 packages of seeds for APHIS’ inspection. pic.twitter.com/EvfHMZHHCP— USDA APHIS (@USDA_APHIS) August 11, 2020
As most of the mailings come from China, the USDA is working with fellow organisations in the country and China's postal services to find more details about the unsolicited packages.
“We’ve been working with the primary ecommerce companies to use their own systems in stopping future shipments to the United States", USDA APHIS Deputy Administrator Osama El-Lissy said.
According to El-Lissy, US Customs and Border Protection officials are working with USDA in order to “intercept any future packages being shipped to the United States".