The argument I’ve always heard for why leaves or branches grow by rotating around a stem/trunk one golden angle at a time is that this is an optimal mutation. I’ve even heard this as an explanation for why clovers typically have three leaves. I’m not sure I understand how the thinking applies, since it seems to be about getting the most sunlight without completely overshadowing earlier growth, and this clearly isn’t a factor for a single clover. I haven’t sat down with a collection of clovers and a protractor, either. So I’m basically saying I’m riddled with doubts here.
Anyway, nevertheless, I wonder about the Fibonacci/golden angle/n-leaf-ness aspect of four leaf clovers often. If we planted a patch of 4 leaf clovers, would a 3 leaf mutation really be optimal “enough” to eventually win out? This is an empirical question, so I hope someone will take the charge and design a long-term controlled study!