Bajtar tax-xewk (“prickly pear”) is a seasonal summer fruit that grows all over the Maltese islands. In the past farmers used the plant as a boundary planted near their field walls to keep intruders or other wandering livestock from entering their fields or between boundaries as a wind breaker.
According to many farmers this fruit is best harvested in the morning between August and September. During the peak of summer we can see the plant flowering with different magnificent colours which then would reflect the colour of the fruit.
Prickly pears are not just famous for their various colours but also for their health benefits. It contains magnesium, amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins C and B, beta-carotene, iron, calcium, potassium, and many other nutrients and is thus a good source of a considerable part of the daily need of many vitamins and minerals. Although in the old times it was also used as a fodder to pigs, the fruit is nowadays used for jams, liquors, syrups and also for cosmetics in Sicily.