Consider the LCD (least common denominator) principle in algebra. A larger denominator would work for most processes for which the LCD would be calculated, however the least is the one used by convention. Why? The interest in prime numbers in general is based on the value of reductive methodologies.
In philosophy, Occam's Razor is a principle that, given two conceptual constructs that correlate equally well with observations, the simpler is most likely the best. A more formal and generalized prescription is this:
Given two mathematical models of a physical system with equal correlation to the set of all observations about the system being modeled, the simpler model is more likely to be the most likely to be predictive of conditions outside those of the observation set.
This principle of simplicity as the functional ideal is true of decision trees. The more likely functional and clear decision tree resulting from a given data set driving its construction will be the simplest. Without a clear reason for additional complexity, there may be no benefit derived from the complexity added and yet there may be penalties in terms of clarity and therefore maintainability and verifiability. There may be computational penalties too, in some applications.
The question mentions, "Bigger extensions of the tree which could in principle perform better," however the performance of the tree should be a matter optimization in preparing for execution and execution of the decision tree in real time. In other words, the minimalist decision tree is the most clear, workable, and verifiable construct, however a clever software engineer could translate that minimalist construct to a run time optimized equivalent.
Just as with compilation of source code, performance is multidimensional in meaning. There are time efficiency, memory efficiency, network bandwidth efficiency, or other performance metrics that could be used when optimizing the tree for run time. Nonetheless, the simpler tree is the best starting point for any weighted combination of these interests.