Editor's note: This article has been updated with new data.
Hundreds of people in several states — including more than 175 in Iowa — have received unsolicited plant seeds in the mail, purportedly from China.
At least one of the recipients is a resident of Carroll County.
"Unlabeled seeds and seeds from unknown origins should never be planted," Keely Coppess, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, told the Times Herald. "They pose the risk of introducing an invasive plant species or seed-borne diseases that do not currently exist in the United States."
The seeds often arrive in small, white packages with a label that claims they contain jewelry. Coppess said people have received a wide variety of seeds and that none have yet been identified.
Those who receive an unsolicited packet of unlabeled seed should not open the seed packet, destroy it or plant it, but should call 515-281-5321 and relinquish them to state officials.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has said the suspicious seed mailings might be part of a scam in which a foreign business artificially boosts its online credibility by appearing to sell a large amount of orders and falsifying reviews for those orders. It's called "brushing," according to the department.