UPDATED: Just in case I go missing

So a few months ago I got these seeds in the mail from China (along with a phone holder for some reason) and Victor and Hailey thought it was weird because I wasn’t expecting any seeds. But I had ordered a bunch of seeds much earlier in the summer and they never came so I’d just cancelled the order and then I thought maybe they sent them anyway for free so that I wouldn’t leave a bad review so in the end I planted a few. Then recently I started seeing these articles about mysterious seeds from China and about how you’re not supposed to plant them because nobody knows where they’re coming from but by that time it was already growing and this morning this thing blossomed:

So basically I’m just putting this here to say that if we all go missing suddenly you should check the pods growing in the container backyard because we may be inside them.

Or possibly this is just squash.

Hard to say.

UPDATE: Many of you were concerned that I would be eaten by this thing or that I had unwittingly released something harmful into the world so I took your advice and contacted the Texas Department of Agriculture. I explained everything and gave them a link to the seeds I’d bought (and thought had been canceled) and to this blog and closed with, “So my question is…can I keep it?  Or is it actually some sort of person-eating pod that will eat me before I can eat it?”

They were very nice and said that this seemed to be crookneck squash which is exactly what I’d ordered so I didn’t need to worry and were very happy that I’d contacted them. They also said that if anything suspicious did sprout they could send me an inspector to make sure but that seems a bit like overkill considering that it started blooming today and looks exactly like a very lovely but probably not very deadly squash blossom.


100 thoughts on “UPDATED: Just in case I go missing

Read comments below or add one.

  1. IMO you should burn the plant where it sits. Don’t pull it and spread any pollen. Just burn it.

  2. The government has said that it’s mostly things like fennel and morning glories and other common plants. But you never know: if it starts asking for human blood, run the other way.

  3. While it looks relatively harmless, you have no idea whether the plant is invasive or not. I would pull it out and dispose of it, or at a minimum contact your local college’s agricultural department and get input from them.

  4. A word of warning:

    If, of a morning, you think, “Oh, cool, almost big enough to pick,” do not wait until the next morning to check again. At that point it may resemble a baseball bat.

    Not a gardener here. I had NO idea.

  5. Maybe alien pod squash? Best of both worlds(literally)? I am growing non-alien Canadian zucchini squash this year for the first time ever and hoping the blossoms actually end up giving me fruit. It’s an eternal battle with the hordes of backyard garden slugs.

  6. Check your Amazon feedback, see if you have left any 5 star reviews on an unpurchased product– my seeds apparently grew touchless thermometers that I raved about!

  7. Yikes!! I’m in a few online gardening and edible plant groups. Everybody’s been freaking out about the seeds way before it hit the news. I feel like they might grow into huge venus fly trap- ish things. They scare me!

  8. Some of those I’ve seen in photos are pumpkin seeds. That’s what it looks like to me.

  9. In Canada they want the seeds turned in to the food inspection agency…..so yah, maybe you want to call the counterpart in your area to come have a look at your giant plant ! 😉 Or send a photo.

  10. They’re probably from the house in “Mexican Gothic”. Hope they don’t turn into mushrooms…just sayin’.

  11. The guy who planted his in Arkansas is being visited by the USDA to remove the plants. Just call your local agriculture agency and they’ll get that ball rolling.

  12. Reddit explanation about the seeds on r/outoftheloop
    It’s likely amazon sellers sending cheap goods through the male so they’re marked as received and thus marking the seller as verified.

  13. Don’t know if this is good news or bad news: The plant is very invasive. Many, if not most, states are requesting that you arrange to have the plant/seeds removed by . . . you’d have to research that. Probably something like the state agriculture extension center. Don’t dig it up or throw it away!

  14. When I saw that story in the news cycle, my first thought was “oh dear goddess, as soon as my father hears about this, he’s going to call me and ask me to find any theoretical research papers published about the splicing of deadly bacteria or viruses into plants as a method to lay waste to a large population.” And then I got out the whiskey.

    I’m still waiting for the call. He’s usually about 5 days behind everyone else when it comes to this sort of thing.

  15. Hmmm…maybe it’s a pumpkin that develops it’s own scary face and then on Halloween night IT HUNTS YOU DOWN AND EATS YOU! Or, maybe not. Might want to have someone officialish come and check it out. It is 2020, you know.

  16. We got the seeds, cup holder, and a little folding stool! That’s so bizarre.

  17. Please contact your local Department of Agriculture! It’s probably harmless, but….

  18. Am I the only one who’s never heard of these nefarious seeds? I hope I get some just to liven things up!

  19. I was wondering what the theme for August was going to be. Giant invasive people eating squash. Mystery solved. Too bad I picked giant vampire geese for this month. Oh well, there’s always next month..

  20. So I went onto Amazon and looked up the seeds that I’d canceled (they were for crookneck squash) and even though I canceled it months ago the order says “On it’s way but running late”. I ordered it five months ago so I suspect that’s not accurate. A bunch of recent reviews say they never got theirs but there are a lot of reviews from 2018 and 2019 from the same seller with pictures of their squash plants and they totally look exactly like the plant I’m growing. But I will send an email to the Department of Agriculture just to make sure it’s a squash and it isn’t a people-eating pod plant.

  21. ON A DIFFERENT TOPIC, though I love the ‘I grew mysterious Chinese seeds” theme here, –I’d be tempted too! 🙂 Please keep us updated on how many bodies appear or disappear?

    Jenny, have you ever listened to The Tom Tom Club, in particular the
    Wordy RappingHood song?

    It’s on youtube, it’s the girls from the Talking Heads, from like, okay, way decades ago, but it doesn’t grow old.

    I listen to this song when I have to do something I don’t want to do, because it motivates me to be okay with being a bit frustrated or full out angry, like wrapping Christmas presents to ship to people who won’t give a damn about my efforts. It’s a cathartic kind of music, both happy and fuck you all at the same time.

    It helps get things done!

    But if you only see it at as joyful, playful,
    good for you! It is! It’s kept me going in some rough moments.

    Sending you all love and the best our souls can muster,

    (Love them. ~ Jenny)

  22. I have been on the lookout for the mystery seeds, but if anyone was going to get them in the mail it would be you! Glad you are going to call in SWAT to irradicate and save you from becoming plant food or pod person, or just spreading invasive vegies. Oddly I had a pint of Ben &Jerry’s show up on my porch last night! No idea who dropped it off! Don’t worry, not eating it, but weirds me out…random ice cream.

  23. And this would be just one of many reasons why I love you and your posts and that I have followed you for so many years!!

  24. It could be a magickal pumpkin—like Cinderella’s. But you should probably let the Aggies take it to their lab.

  25. I’m almost kind of disappointed there is no magical bean stalk. Or wine tree. I was rooting for a wine tree.

  26. Please post regular updates! I live in Vietnam, and we had a pumpkin farm behind us. They intentionally spread the vines out wide, and harvested the flowers as soon as they opened. I never saw a pumpkin growing there, but when my language teacher took me through the market and I saw the flowers for sale, I asked what they are used for. People add pumpkin flower into their stir-fry (only about 1 or 2 for a regular-sized fry-up) or they fry them, whole, in oil and eat as a crunchy snack.
    … if that’s what this is.

  27. I work for an agriculture agency getting tons of calls about these seeds. The concern is that they are either part of a brush scam or are mislabeled in order to get seeds into the country bypassing safeguards for invasive species, plant diseases, and pests. It is agricultural smuggling, and seeds and plants that are smuggled into the country could do some serious harm to farms, gardens, and the environment.

  28. That’s what they were saying here in north Texas too..it was all over the place. And just like you, Jenny, if I had gotten some mystery seeds I’d have been tempted to go buy another pot (I have one that is growing some lentils I got from the library a couple months ago that I wanted to see if I could grow because I’ve got a notorious black thumb) and plant them. Just to see what grew. Because I’m a freak like that. A curious freak. 😀

  29. Please don’t do this. This could lead to harmful results for local wildlife and local plants. We don’t know if they are cross-bred with anything that is invasive or poisonous to local critters.

  30. I just saw an article that said the seeds sent to Ohio were noxious, invasive weeds. I agree with the burn advice. Just. In. Case.

  31. From what I’ve seen on the seed spam, you should also check your credit card statements and amazon purchase history — seems the seed arrival may be linked to people skimming information off of online orders. Especially since many of the seed packs are labeled as jewelry to avoid inspection. Also, don’t get eaten by the squash.

  32. The number of people making Seymore references here just makes me so damn happy. Aren’t squash flowers edible? Maybe eat it before it eats you?

  33. Oh my cats!!!! Augh!!! The mystery seeds!!! I really hope it’s non threatening but, yeah, if you suddenly go silent… it will he assumed it’s the evil plant and hopefully many will then show up at your house with shovels and hoes like a group of mad townsfolk and get justice for you and your family.

  34. I’m pretty sure those evil Chinese seeds will grow into tiny terrorists with tiny spears to stab the rotten Americans in the toes and about the ankles. One of my coworkers thought they’d grow tiny leprechauns but I had to point out the seeds are from CHINA, not IRELAND!…..unless those sneaky sobs sent them to China to be forwarded in an attempt to dupe us further

  35. Words are WORDSworth! Words! That whole album is a masterpiece. Love me some Tom Tom Club.

  36. As a card-carrying employee of the USDA, I thank you for reporting this! Hopefully you will be blessed with a lovely squash 🙂

  37. A Trojan Horse to get genetically modified seeds or invasive species or toxic chemicals into our environment. Plus to get fake reviews on Amazon, or steal your information online.
    If the pod people take over your bodies, we will find out because your posts will suddenly become about being “shining, happy people” and will no longer about being the fabulously strangeling depressed/anxious unique people like you and your followers are now.
    Although, if you suddenly find yourself cured of anxiety and depression due to Chinese mystery plants, please let us know, I’d take that plant cure any day.

  38. An additional comment: did you order the original seeds from China? If so, please don’t in the future, too dangerous for US Agriculture. Lots of amazing heritage seed companies are in the US. This ends my PSA for the day.

  39. and here I am feeling bad because everyone else got Mystery Seeds and all I get are phone calls offering an extended warranty for a car I no longer own.

  40. I have grown a variety of squash over the years in my garden and it does indeed look like a squash vine. HOWEVER, can not say I would trust eating the thing once it has fully grown. Just me though..LOL Good luck, will be anxious to see what “pops” out!

  41. I am sorry. I don’t even care. I would plant the China seeds and see what comes up. It would make things even more interesting. I have mutant people eating plants in December, for 1000.00, Alex. Let the department of agriculture worry about the other invasive plant species they have done nothing about first. I would however, keep a close eye on all my credit cards and other accounts and perhaps change some passwords.

  42. That looks like a squashy thing (pumpkin? courgette? gourd?). It also looks like that’s a female flower, judging by the little pot belly under the flower. If there aren’t any male flowers around, it might not get pollinated, so you may not get eaten by weird hybrid bloggess-eating squash. We have pumpkins, and the smallest person in the house has the job of using Q-tips to collect the pollen from the male flowers, and store the Q-tips in baggies in the fridge, waiting for the glorious flowering of the female flower! We had a lot of fellow feeling for your canteloupe antics.

    Please don’t get eaten by weird hybrid squash. You are too wonderful to lose.

  43. Jenny, I promise to message you if I notice signs of squash blossoms or leaves sprouting around your shoulders as you give tours around Nowhere!

  44. Another vote for Triffid. Keep an eye on it, from a safe distance, and be ready to burn it if it starts to move!

  45. Here’s one guy did the experiment for us so the rest of us can burn them if they show up:
    “The plant bore a weirdly large white fruit from orange flowers, having an uncanny similarity with squash.”


    Looks to me like a variety of white winter squash (aka ash gourd, and many combinations of those words.) You can buy them legally in North America without introducing possible plant diseases. https://www.amazon.com/Gourd-White-Winter-benincasa-hispida/dp/B07KWV8KPX

  46. Huh. My next hit was Newsweek — apparently there have been a dozen different things sent, and China is actually asking for the seeds to be sent back so they can investigate and find out who’s breaking international import/export rules!

  47. it isn’t that the seeds are bad or contain aliens from another planet, it’s that they could, as several people have said, be invasive. Even as remote as we are, we now have at least a dozen invasive species, some airborne, some handed out by, incredibly, the local nurseries, and they have taken over great swaths of land. Autumn Olive, bittersweet, a small white rose that spreads everywhere, even lilacs and japanese knotweed and some kinds of trumpet vines will, if left unchecked, take over entire acres. And nearly all of these are originally from the far east. They love our climates. =)

  48. This seems strangely like the kind of thing I’d end up doing, through serendipity or otherwise, if I currently had garden space. It also makes me picture a ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ meets ‘Nowhere Bookshop’ crossover musical. With raccoons. And taxidermy. It would be weird. But really awesome.

  49. Hello Bloggess! So I did not order squash but had actually ordered Wisteria seeds. I planted them thinking that was what they were (i had no idea what Wisteria seeds looked like). I had only heard about the mystery seed shipments and the warnings about NOT planting them well after the fact. I ended up getting some alien squash that grew REALLY REALLY fast! I don’t know if I can post a pic here so I can best describe them as HUGE and that they are a greenish-white. Those that I have picked grew to about a foot long and around 7-8″ girth. I don’t know what the hell they are. All of my F/B friends told me I should burn the plant but they were already in progress and my curiosity got the better of me so I couldn’t bring myself to do that. I’ve actually eaten some of it. They have a very thick skin so I used a large knife to cut it off. I sliced it, dipped each in egg, breadcrumbs and fried it with some fresh, sliced garlic. Tasted really good. I’m still here to tell so I can report they are not. poisonous. Is this bad? I dunno but can only hope that my inquisitiveness has not brought some horrible ag disease to our country. Like China hasn’t already caused us problems!

  50. I once sent an email to 35 of my business associates with my title as GENITAL MANAGER, instead of General Manager……they were very impressed.

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