Day Trips: International Waterlily Collection, San Angelo

Texas botanical garden of water plants saved the native flowers of Egypt’s Nile River

Photos by Gerald E. McLeod

The International Waterlily Collection at Civic League Park in San Angelo is an oddity among the dry-land prickly pear cactus and mesquite of the West Texas desert.

The world-renowned plant collection exists largely because of the efforts of one man – Ken Landon, a retired engineer and lifelong botanist. Landon traveled the world collecting seeds and specimens of water lilies. He developed the official Texas State Waterlily, provided the seeds to reintroduce the Lily of the Nile to its namesake river in Egypt, and is one of the pre-eminent water lily seed preservationists in the world.

At any given time, the six ponds in the park are a colorful showcase of up to 150 species. The flowers bloom in a rainbow of colors and sizes along with lily pads, some eight feet in diameter. The pools reflect only about 5% of Landon's collection which encompasses close to 90% of all water lilies. Many of the plants have gone extinct in their native lands, but can be seen in the San Angelo ponds.

The water lily season spans April to October, but the blooms can often be seen earlier and later in the year. The display peaks in late September when the city hosts the annual LilyFest (Sept. 23, 2017).

The International Waterlily Collection is near the corner of West Beaure­gard Avenue (BUS US-67) and North Park Street west of downtown San Angelo and the Concho River. The park is free and open 24 hours. The best time to see the flowers is in the morning, but some of the blooms only occur in the evening. See more info at

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International Waterlily Collection, Civic League Park, Ken Landon

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