This paper presents a simplified, quasi-physical model of how a leaf actually grows:

* Qinglan Xia, [The formation of a tree leaf](, ESAIM 2007. 

Strikingly, the author claims:

> Based on this model, we also provide some computer visualization of tree leaves, which resemble many known leaves including the maple and mulberry leaf.

Since this is science, let's reproduce their results!  

First step, let's use this thread to go through the paper in detail, discuss the model, and come up with a developer-target spec for modeling code.

Once we have code, we can test the model to verify that it produces leaves that are close to maple, mulberry, etc.

Eventually, we could turn this into an open source project, complemented by an art gallery of images and animations.