This looks like a thistle to us. There are a couple of problems. The first problem is that it is dead. So it has no leaves or flowers that could give us a clue as to which variety of thistle it is. The other problem is that, as a general rule, thistles are biennial. They grow they first year as a bunch of leaves with few or no flowers. The second year they grow to their full height and flower. They then die. This means that waiting for spring to see what size and shape the leaves are, is going to be a little unproductive.
The thistle is the emblem associated with Scotland and it is also the emblem of Encyclopædia Britannica which was first printed in Edinburgh around 1771 as a three volume set. Since the 32 volume 2010 edition, it is no longer available in a printed publication but has retreated behind closed doors and is now, only accessible in its on-line persona.
Mrs. Grieve said that ancient writers had thought an extract of thistle would improve the brain and cure baldness, both useful attributes for something that many people assume is only truly appreciated by Eeyore, being found in profusion in Eeyore’s Gloomy Place. Talking of places, Carduus is Latin for thistle and in French a thistle is a chardon. So Chardonnay, the village that is believed to be the ancestral home of the Chardonnay grape, is actually ‘the place of the thistles’.
Nice glass of thistle wine anyone? Cheers!