The exceptionally well-preserved holotype of the armoured dinosaur Borealopelta markmitchelli (Ornithischia; Nodosauridae) from the Early Cretaceous (Clearwater Formation) of northern Alberta preserves a distinct mass within the abdominal cavity. Fourteen independent criteria (including: co-allochthony, anatomical position, gastroliths) support the interpretation of this mass as ingested stomach contents-a cololite. Palynomorphs in the cololite are a subset of the more diverse external sample. Analysis of the cololite documents well-preserved plant material dominated by leaf tissue (88%), including intact sporangia, leaf cross-sections and cuticle, but also including stems, wood and charcoal. The leaf fraction is dominated (85%) by leptosporangiate ferns (subclass Polypodiidae), with low cycad-cycadophyte (3%) and trace conifer foliage. These data represent the most well-supported and detailed direct evidence of diet in an herbivorous dinosaur. Details of the dietary palaeoecology of this nodosaur are revealed, including: selective feeding on ferns; preferential ingestion of leptosporangiate ferns to the exclusion of Osmundaceae and eusporangiate ferns such as Marattiaceae; and incidental consumption of cycad-cycadophyte and conifer leaves. The presence of significant (6%) charcoal may represent the dietary use of recently burned conifer forest undergoing fern succession, early evidence of a fire succession ecology, as is associated with many modern large herbivores.