I recently received a card that’s printed on “seed” paper — that paper that has wildflower seeds embedded in it that we, presumably, should plant. But with all the talk about planting native species, I’m unsure if I should. What do you say?
The year was 2013, Katy Perry had just edged out fellow pop star Justin Bieber for most popular Twitter account holder, and Dot could often be heard singing along to Roar, Perry’s anthem to empowerment. But with Perry at her zenith, Australia banned the singing sensation’s CD (remember those?) from entering the country. The country had nothing against the music on “Prism,” but rather had a problem with the CD itself, which came packaged with a piece of seed paper and a message to plant it and “spread the light.” Catchy, huh? Not enough to make the Australian authorities fans.
“Seeds or plant material of international origin may be a weed not present in Australia or the host of a plant pathogen of biosecurity concern,” a department spokesperson told news.com.au.
In other words, spreading light wasn’t the concern; potentially spreading invasive plants was.
Despite assurances that the seeds in Perry’s paper were harmless and local (ostensibly daisy seeds from the country’s western Swan River region), the powers that be said “bloody hell, mate.” As in, nope. Your seeds offer nothing but discontent.
It’s possible, however, that the Australians uncharacteristically overreacted. Indeed, reputable seed paper companies are careful to ensure that they’re not including problematic species. If you know the company that produced your card, go online and check out its site.
If you’re unsure, but don’t want to waste the opportunity to grow perfectly lovely and welcome plants, Tim Boland, executive director of the Polly Hill Arboretum on Martha’s Vineyard, suggests that you plant the paper indoors on a windowsill until you have sprouts and can better identify what’s growing. “See what they develop into, so you don’t mistakenly plant outside something that could be invasive,” he suggests.
If all of this has inspired you to make your own seed paper, the folks at Canada’s Prince Edward Island Invasive Species Council have some tips.