The warm Mediterranean climate with long, dry summers and cool, mild winters in Malta is perfect for prickly pear cactus plants, known as ‘bajtar tax-xewk.’ Cactuses grow almost anywhere in Malta. The prickly pear tree is often planted around fields in Malta and Gozo as a windbreak and for its fruit.
The cactus plant produces a delicious fruit. prickly pear, which comes in a range of colours from green to yellow, red, and purple. Several of them can be found in Malta. What is even more interesting, each of them has a distinctive name. The three most common varieties are the yellow fruit known as 'isfar' or 'Malti', the red one known as 'l-aħmar' or 'l-ingliż', and the white one called 'abjad' or Franċiż. This fruit is named after its pear shape and size, and is known for having a rather prickly skin. Inside it is made out of soft and porous flesh that ranges in colour from light yellow to a rich golden or ruby hue and has a sweet, melon-like aroma.
It is believed that prickly pears have healing properties. In Malta it was used mainly for stomach aches, bone pain, inflammations, and insect stings. Nowadays it is used in cosmetics and food supplements.
For cooking it is used for jams, jellies, and liqueurs. Also in Malta some enterprises produce liquor "Baytril" (Bajtra), from prickly pears. The harvest season is from July to October.