U.S. Department of Agriculture botanists have confirmed that a weed seed identified by Customs agriculture specialists at the Port of Baltimore last week is the highly invasive species known as Mission Grass, Customs and Border Protection said Thursday.
Inspectors discovered the Mission Grass seed in a container of steel coils from Vietnam. It is the first time the noxious weed has been seen at the Port of Baltimore.
Enforcement officers also found a Cogongrass seed in the same shipment. Congongrass is a tufted, perennial grass with hard, creeping roots that grows up to three feet tall. Found on all continents, the notorious weed harms the growth of many crops, especially in southern and eastern Asia. It can survive in poor soils and is difficult to eradicate because of its tough roots.
Mission Grass is an annual or perennial grass that grows to more than six feet. It produces seeds at a prolific rate and can quickly overtake cultivated fields. Its seeds can be dispersed by water, clinging to animals, or as hay or grain contaminants. It has become a dominant weed in cleared forests in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.
CBP said the importer opted to decontaminate the shipment instead of re-exporting it.